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News and Press ReleasesEgypt: U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing: Egypt, South Sudan, Nigeria

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Egypt: U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing: Egypt, South Sudan, Nigeria

04-08-2014, 06:06 PM
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Egypt: U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing: Egypt, South Sudan, Nigeria

    Excerpt from the U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing

    Egypt

    MS. PSAKI: Oh, how nice of you, Arshad. Two things for all of you at the top. The United States is deeply troubled by the decision today of an Egyptian court to uphold an on-appeal three-year prison sentences and substantial fines for Mohamed Adel, Ahmed Douma, and Ahmed Maher - three peaceful, pro-democracy activists. Their continued imprisonment under a law that severely restricts the universal right to peaceful assembly and expression runs counter the Egyptian Government's commitment to fostering an open electoral environment and a transition process that protects the universal rights of all Egyptians. We urge the Egyptian Government to exercise its constitutional authority to commute these excessive sentences, which are not in line with the rights guaranteed in Egypt's new constitution, Egypt's international obligations, or the government's own commitment not to return to Mubarak-era practices.

    South Sudan

    QUESTION: The Secretary meets with the South Sudanese foreign minister this week. While you were traveling, there was an announcement of sanctions in South Sudan. Have there been any individuals associated with those sanctions, and is the message - that part of the message to the South Sudanese foreign minister this week?

    MS. PSAKI: I'm certain that will be part of the discussion. I'm not aware of individuals tied to it but - yet. But let me talk to our team and see if there's an update. I know that was last week, if I remember correctly.

    Nigeria

    QUESTION: In Nigeria, there are members of the military who have come forward with evidence that the Nigerian military itself is coordinating attacks with Boko Haram.

    MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

    QUESTION: Is the United States aware of these reports? Does the United States have any independent analysis of collusion between the Nigerian military and Boko Haram? How does that affect your helping the Nigerian military with what you thought was a fight against Boko Haram?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, let me check, Scott, with our team. I haven't had a chance to talk with them about this issue this morning - or this afternoon.

    Egypt

    QUESTION: I have a quick one on Egypt.

    MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Said.

    QUESTION: You started at the very top. How did you make your displeasure known about - to the Egyptians about Mohammed Adel and Ahmed Maher? Did you - did anyone speak with anyone there, or just that they --

    MS. PSAKI: We have an expansive team on the ground --

    QUESTION: Okay.

    MS. PSAKI: -- so they certainly make their - our concerns known when that is relevant.

    QUESTION: Same topic, sort of?

    MS. PSAKI: Okay.

    QUESTION: Today is 100 days since the Al Jazeera English journalists --

    MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

    QUESTION: -- have been in captivity. I'm just wondering if you guys are --

    MS. PSAKI: Sure.

    QUESTION: -- in touch at all with the Egyptians on that.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, we are, of course, watching closely the trial and continue to convey our deep concerns directly to the Government of Egypt. We urge the government to drop these charges and release these journalists who have been detained. We remain deeply concerned about the restrictions of freedom of expression in Egypt, including the targeting of Egyptian and foreign journalists simply for expressing their views. Journalists, regardless of affiliation, should be protected and permitted to do their jobs free from intimidation or fear of retribution. Egypt's constitution upholds these basic rights and freedoms, and Egypt's interim government has a responsibility to ensure that they are protected.

    QUESTION: Thank you.

    MS. PSAKI: Thank you.

    QUESTION: One more on the Egypt thing.

    MS. PSAKI: Sure.

    QUESTION: Had you - I know you had previously urged the Egyptian authorities to reconsider the sentences on those three.

    MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

    QUESTION: Had you previously urged them to commute them?

    MS. PSAKI: I'd have to check on that, Arshad, and see what language we'd used previously.

    QUESTION: Because the - I mean, I can check too, but the reason I ask is I think there's one more legal appeal that is still possible.

    MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

    QUESTION: And if you didn't ask them to commute it before, it suggests you've just given up on the legal process entirely, or on the court process.

    MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Let me check with our team and see on that
                  

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