Egypt presidency denies filing complaint against Bassem Youssef

Ahram Online, Wednesday 3 Apr 2013

Office of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi says it supports freedom of expression but warns critics to abide by the law

The Egyptian presidency has denied filing legal complaints against TV satirist Bassem Youssef or any other person.

In comments posted on Facebook on Tuesday, the presidency said it was committed to freedom of expression but advised critics to "abide by the law."

Bassem Youssef was released on LE15,000 bail on Sunday after being questioned about allegations he insulted the president and Islam on his satirical TV show, El-Barnameg.

“The presidency would like to point out that Egypt after the January 25 Revolution is a state of law ... hence the summoning of any Egyptian, regardless of his status or popularity, is a decision for the prosecutor-general who works independently and without interference from the presidency,” read a statement on President Mohamed Morsi’s official Facebook page.

The statement comes after the US said investigations into Youssef and other government critics were a "disturbing trend." 

In response, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party issued a statement accusing the US of "flagrant interference" in Egyptian affairs.

Youssef's El-Bernameg show, which is inspired in part by Jon Stewart's Daily Show, often lampoons President Morsi and conservative Islamist clerics.

The questioning of Youssef came after arrest warrants were issued for five prominent anti-government activists for "inciting violence."

Egypt's prosecutor-general, meanwhile, has denied the recent arrest warrants were political in nature, asserting they simply represented the application of the law.

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