Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that no journalists are in prison in Egypt for crimes related to freedom of expression or their work.
"None of the journalists… are in prison or facing a judicial process related to their professional journalism – but are accused of implication with terrorist activity or contravening stipulated legal norms that has necessitated that these accusations are made," Shoukry said during a press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Cairo on Sunday.
He added that such journalists are "afforded all forms of defence to deal with these accusations."
Kerry commented that the US has been "crystal clear" about its beliefs with regards to human rights and the right to speech, but noted that Egypt is going through a "fragile and challenging" situation.
"[Shoukry] has often pointed out to me evidence in certain cases where it’s a very difficult choice for Egypt because there is evidence of engagement in violence by certain people and certain leaders – obviously not everybody, not a whole group, and they understand that," he said.
The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said a prison census on 1 June showed that at least 18 Egyptian journalists were imprisoned — the highest number since it began recording data in 1990.
"The threat of imprisonment in Egypt is part of an atmosphere in which authorities pressure media outlets to censor critical voices and issue gag orders on sensitive topics," the CPJ said in a statement on 25 June.