US: Freedom of Expression at Stake in Egypt over Detained Activist
The United States said Thursday that freedom of expression is at stake in the case of an Egyptian-American human rights activist detained in Cairo on charges of fomenting instability.
"We see this as a human rights issue and we believe that freedom of expression is at stake in this case," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, referring to the arrest of Saad Eddin Ibrahim.
Boucher, speaking at Camp David retreat on the sidelines of the Middle East peace summit, called on Egyptian authorities to respect its human rights commitments, particularly those they signed onto at last month's Community of Democracies meeting in Poland.
"We urge Egypt to keep in mind the declaration they endorsed there which calls for the right of every person to freedom of opinion and of expression and the right to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention," he told reporters.
Ibrahim, director of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Human Rights and a professor at the American University in Cairo, was arrested June 30th on charges of collaborating with foreigners to undermine Egypt's stability.
He has told US consular officials that he has been treated correctly but Boucher said Washington was still concerned with the case.
"We believe that Dr. Ibrahim has a right to an independent, fair trial," he said, noting that although the United States and Egypt were close allies, they still maintained a regular dialogue on human rights and civil society issues.
Boucher added that the US embassy in Cairo was continuing to raise the case "at the highest levels" with the Egyptian government.
Ibrahim faces 15 years in prison if found guilty of the charges, which include drafting reports on the internal situation in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and other Arab countries in exchange for money from abroad.
State security court prosecutors have also accused him of having "exploited the Ibn Khaldun Center to get into contact with a great number of countries and to foment internal problems that could threaten Egypt's stability."
In addition, Ibrahim, a sociology professor the university, is also accused of trying to "tarnish Egypt's reputation ... and make a film deriding the government," prosecutors say -- THURMONT, Maryland (AFP)
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