The US State Department’s senior Middle East diplomat said Egypt’s treatment of a prominent journalist and activist was “outrageous” and had been raised with the Egyptian ambassador.
Journalist and activist Esraa Abdelfattah was arrested by plainclothes security officers in Cairo on October 12 and reportedly beaten after refusing to unlock her mobile phone, according to the UN human rights office.
David Schenker, assistant secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, told a congressional hearing: “I met her several times, I think it is outrageous. I had the Egyptian ambassador in my office to talk about Esraa,” he said adding: “Egypt has a long way to go on human rights.”
Protests against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo and elsewhere followed online calls for demonstrations against alleged government corruption.
Sisi, who came to power after, while army chief, leading the 2013 overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, has overseen a broad crackdown on dissent extending to liberal and Islamist groups and rights groups say is the most severe in recent memory.
During an April visit to Washington by Sisi, US President Donald Trump praised his Egyptian counterpart as a “great president,” while a bipartisan group of US lawmakers raised concerns about his record on human rights and freedoms.