Badr Abdel Aaty, spokesperson for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, rejected a US statement criticizing the prosecution of journalists in Egypt saying it was “unacceptable for any state or third party to interfere in the work of the Egyptian judiciary.”
He pointed out that the referral of a number of journalists to the criminal court was based on the decision of the public prosecution which is part of the Egyptian judicial system, and has full autonomy as its work is indepndent from the government.
“The Egyptian judiciary provides all the legal safeguards for defendants, the most important of which are fair trials and assigning lawyers to defend the defendants, as well as having several degrees of litigation so as the accused can challenge the ruling if convicted,” Abdel Aaty said.
He added all defendants were tried before ordinary courts and there were no extraordinary measures.
Abdel Aaty reiterated rejection for foreign interference or attempt to influence the independence of judiciary.
The US State Department slammed the Egyptian government Wednesday for charges brought against 20 journalists including four foreigners, slamming prosecutors for “an egregious disregard” for basic rights and freedoms.
“Let me be clear that the United States places great value on a free press,” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a sharply worded statement.
“The government's targeting of journalists and others on spurious claims is wrong and demonstrates an egregious disregard for the protection of basic rights and freedoms.”
Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat has referred 20 defendants, including an Australian, a Briton and a Dutch national, to the Cairo Criminal Court on charges of establishing a media network in a hotel to broadcast “false news” via the Al Jazeera channel in a case known as the “Marriott Cell.”
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm