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US envoy statements about jailing journalists ‘not directed to Egypt,’ says FM Shoukry

The US told an Egypt-chaired United Nations Security Council meeting that attacking journalists and suppressing political dissent fuels violent extremism, in what was regarded as covert criticism of Cairo

Ahram Online , Thursday 12 May 2016
Sameh Shoukry
Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry speaks during a Security Council meeting on terrorism, Wednesday May 11, 2016 at U. N. headquarters (AP)
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Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said during a press conference that US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power’s comments about jailed journalists were not directed at Egypt.  

"It is important that we keep a focus and that we send a clear message and do not confuse issues related to the battle against terrorism with other issues," he told reporters.

Asked about the perceived crackdown on dissent and the possible release of journalists, Shoukry said that all prisoners are in jail based on an "independent judicial" decision.

He said that those detained face accusations of contravening laws or carrying out "violent activities."

"We uphold the freedom of expression, we uphold the freedom of journalism," Shokry said, claiming that the country's press outlets are "totally free to express their views."

The United States told an Egypt-chaired United Nations Security Council meeting that attacking journalists and suppressing political dissent fuels violent extremism, in what was regarded as covert criticism of Cairo

"Arresting journalists, sentencing reporters to death, treating media as an enemy of the state - such actions are thoroughly counterproductive," said the US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power.

The remarks to the 15-member council were seen as a swipe at Egypt's administration, which has been criticised for the recent arrests of journalists.

Egyptian security forces earlier this month raided the country's Journalists Syndicate and arrested two journalists, a move that sparked outrage among the media and critics.

A total of 29 journalists are currently behind bars in Egypt, with some facing charges of spreading false news or aiming to topple the state, according to the country's Journalists Syndicate.

Power said that counter-terrorism measures "should never be used as an excuse to suppress political dissent."

"…There is a clear and vast difference between responding to…legally prescribed exceptions and broad-based attempts to silence government critics," Power said, without specifically referring to Egypt.

"Such behavior doesn’t prevent violent extremism – it fuels it," she said.

Her comments came during a debate on countering terrorism ideologies chaired by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, whose country holds the council's presidency for May.

 

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