U.S. joins rare criticism of Egypt's human rights

The United States joined 30 other Western and mostly European countries that have signed a joint statement calling on Egypt to end the prosecution of activists, journalists, and perceived political opponents and to release them unconditionally.

Egypt's foreign ministry expressed "great surprise and disapproval" in reaction to the statement, which it said contained inaccurate information without proof.

The United States, which has observer status at the U.N. Human Rights Council, called on Cairo to lift curbs on freedoms of expression and assembly.

Egypt is a close ally of the United States, but the Biden administration has vowed to speak out about human rights violations.

Finland's ambassador Kirsti Kauppi read the statement to the Geneva forum on Friday (March 12)

“We urge Egypt to end using terrorism charges to hold activists in extended pre-trial detention with additional charges. We express concern at abuses of due process, including limitations on lawyers. We call for accountability and end of impunity."

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who ousted the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013, has overseen an extensive crackdown on political dissent that has steadily tightened in recent years.

Sisi has said there are no political prisoners in Egypt and that stability and security are paramount.