File Photo: U.S. Senator John McCain attends a news conference at the Benjamin Franklin Library in Mexico City, Mexico December 20, 2016 (Reuters)
Egyptian officials have slammed remarks by US Senator John McCain in which he sharply criticised Cairo's human rights record.
The Egyptian foreign ministry said Wednesday it categorically rejects McCain's remarks, adding that they constitute "unfounded accusations, fallacies and misinformation about the situation in Egypt and its political trajectory."
McCain said on Wednesday that while the Egyptian revolution inspired the world, "over the past few years, we have witnessed Egypt lurch dangerously backwards."
McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, condemned what he described as "unprecedented crackdown on political activism and fundamental human rights", in a statement marking the seventh anniversary of the uprising that overthrew long-serving autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
He cited prosecution of NGO workers, government censorship of the media and "inhumane conditions" in Egyptian prisons.
The foreign ministry described McCain’s remarks as a fresh attempt to undermine Egyptians' celebrations of the revolution anniversary by retraining "flimsy claims" that had previously been refuted by evidence and proofs.
It said it is "unfortunate" that the senator's statements have ignored Egypt's efforts in upholding the values of democracy and human rights, major economic and social reforms, and the country's fierce fight against terrorism.
In his statement, McCain also made reference to the upcoming presidential election, where El-Sisi will run for a second term.
He described a "repressive climate and fear of further retribution" in which a number of potential candidates have been arrested or forced to withdraw.
On Tuesday, Egypt arrested ex-military chief Sami Anan after the armed forces accused him of violations and crimes by announcing his intention to run for election without the army's approval. A day later, rights lawyer Khaled Ali announced he is withdrawing from the presidential race, saying conditions do not allow for a fair contest.
The ministry's statement, however, made no response to McCain's allegations regarding the upcoming vote.