[JURIST] The Bush administration expressed concern Monday about recent "setbacks on press freedom and civil society" in Egypt. Commenting on a recent Egyptian government order mandating the closure of the Association for Human Rights Legal Aid [advocacy website], White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said [text]:
These latest decisions appear to contradict the Egyptian Government's stated commitment to expand democratic rights. The contributions of civil society and the free flow of ideas and information are crucial in addressing a host of domestic and international challenges as well as expanding the rights of Egyptian citizens. We urge that any appeals process proceed expeditiously and according to international standards of due process.The Association had been actively involved in the first lawsuit against a state official on allegations of torture.
Last week, the Egyptian government banned an annual gathering [JURIST report] of the Muslim Brotherhood [party website; FAS website] amid increasing tension between the government, led by Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak [official profile], and critics. Earlier this month, a court sentenced the editors of four tabloids [JURIST report] for publishing criticisms of Mubarak and the ruling National Democratic Party [party website]. Egyptian prosecutors also said they would put al-Dustour [media website] editor Ibrahim Issa on trial in a separate action for allegedly spreading "rumors" about Mubarak's health. AP has more.