US ‘concerned’ about media freedom in Egypt

The United States said on Thursday it was "very concerned" about freedom of the press in Egypt after authorities moved to put on trial two critics of President Mohamed Morsy.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said that the legal actions ran counter to the spirit of last year's revolution, in which Egyptians took to the streets and toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.

"We are very concerned by reports that the Egyptian government is moving to restrict media freedom and criticism in Egypt," Nuland told reporters.

"Freedom of the press, freedom of expression are fundamental tenets of vibrant, strong democracies. They are part and parcel of what the Egyptian people went into the streets for," she said.

"We join the Egyptian people in expecting that their new government will support and extend freedom of the press. So this is something that we're watching closely," she said.

Nuland specifically criticized Egypt for actions against the small independent newspaper Al-Dostour and the Al-Faraeen satellite channel. Both outlets have ardently criticized Morsy's Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Al-Dostour's editor, Islam Afifi, will face trial on 23 August on charges of spreading false news and inciting disorder, according to state media.

Tawfiq Okasha, the host of a talk show critical of Morsy on Al-Faraeen, will go on trial on 1 September and the channel, which he owns, has already been stopped from broadcasting.

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