US frees some aid for Egypt, claiming progress on abuses

Sep 14, 2022, 3:48 PM | Updated: 4:04 pm
FILE - Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a State Department careers conversation at P...

FILE - Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a State Department careers conversation at Purdue University, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind. The Biden administration says it's again giving Egypt much of a $300 million tranche of annual military aid to that country that's conditioned on human rights improvements. Senior U.S. officials, speaking on condition they not be identified to discuss details of the administration's decision-making, disclosed the move by Blinken. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

(AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration said Wednesday it will again give Egypt much of a $300 million tranche of annual military aid that’s conditioned on human rights improvements, saying the U.S. ally had made progress by releasing some 500 of its estimated 60,000 political prisoners.

Rights groups and some U.S. lawmakers have urged the administration to withhold the full $300 million from Egypt, whose security forces and prisons are notorious for detention, torture and disappearances of democracy and rights activists, journalists, writers, political figures and others.

Senior U.S. officials, speaking on condition they not be identified to discuss details of the administration’s decision-making, disclosed the move by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Congress has made U.S. payment of $300 million of the more than $1 billion Egypt receives in U.S. military aid contingent on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi making progress on his government’s poor record for political imprisonment and human rights. Administrations are able to waive that requirement for part of the $300 million.

Congress’s conditioning of some of Egypt’s aid makes for an annual public test of the Biden administration’s balancing of strategic interests and human rights. President Joe Biden had vowed to put human rights and American values at the core of his administration’s foreign policy.

As in the previous year, Blinken has informed Egypt that the U.S. would withhold $130 million of that aid but provide $170 million under the waiver, officials said.

The officials cited release of some 500 political detainees and what they said were Egyptian government efforts on fostering national dialogue.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had taken to the Senate floor this week to urge the administration to withhold the full $300 million. Murphy cited the case of the Egyptian father of one of his constituents, who Murphy said had been raped and subjected to electric shock and other abuse while imprisoned for his work to document rights abuses in Egypt.

“Every day that we continue to send billions of dollars to the Egyptian government, while paying lip service to these egregious human rights violations, it is a blow both to our nation’s character and to our credibility around the world,” Murphy said in one of his pleas, which were made before the State Department decision was announced.

While freeing the several hundred prisoners, Egypt under the military-backed el-Sisi has had to build 60 detention centers over the past decade, Murphy said, to house what rights groups consistently estimate is 60,000 political prisoners nationally.

Under federal law, the secretary of state must certify that Egypt is meeting the congressionally set conditions on human rights and political prisoners or issue a waiver.

The department said Blinken was unable to certify compliance on the human rights front other than with regard to political imprisonment.

Egypt is one of just two Arab nations — the other is Jordan — that once went to war with Israel but have since signed a peace treaty with that country. The U.S., in support of those peace agreements, has provided billions of dollars in military aid to Egypt since its 1978 peace treaty.

Under Sisi, Egypt has seen the heaviest crackdown on dissent in its modern history. Officials have targeted not only Islamist political opponents but also pro-democracy activists, journalists and online critics. Lengthy pretrial detentions have become a common practice to keep the government’s critics behind bars for as long as possible.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Amazon suspends at least 50 workers after fire protest

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon has suspended at least 50 warehouse employees who refused to work their shifts following a trash compactor fire at one of its New York facilities, according to union organizers. The company suspended the workers, with pay, on Tuesday, a day after the fire disrupted operations at the Staten Island warehouse […]
9 hours ago
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and Republican Paul LePage shake hands following a debate, Tuesday, Oct...
Associated Press

Republican LePage says he would veto 15-week abortion ban

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Former Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who’s seeking his old job back, said he’d veto a bill banning abortions at 15 weeks, delivering disappointing news to abortion opponents. LePage provided the answer in a labored exchange Tuesday evening during the first debate of the governor’s race with current Democratic Gov. Janet Mills […]
9 hours ago
Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades speaks during the 9th Environment for Europe Ministerial Confe...
Associated Press

UN officials: Energy crisis shouldn’t delay emissions slash

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A switch back to coal and other fossil fuels by several countries to weather an energy crisis triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine shouldn’t compromise efforts to curb greenhouse emissions, United Nations officials said Wednesday. Sonja Leighton-Kone, a senior official with the United Nations Environment Program said lending a sympathetic ear […]
9 hours ago
FILE - This aerial photo shows part of the Bonanza Creek Ranch film set in Santa Fe, N.M., on Satur...
Associated Press

‘Rust’ cinematographer lawsuit settled, filming to resume

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The family of a cinematographer shot and killed by Alec Baldwin on the set of the film “Rust” has agreed to settle a lawsuit against the actor and the movie’s producers, and production will resume on the project in January. “We have reached a settlement, subject to court approval, for our […]
9 hours ago
FILE - A 10-point white-tailed deer walks through the woods in Freeport, Maine, on Nov. 10, 2015. W...
Associated Press

‘Forever chemicals’ in deer, fish challenge hunters, tourism

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Wildlife agencies in the U.S. are finding elevated levels of a class of toxic chemicals in game animals such as deer — and that’s prompting health advisories in some places where hunting and fishing are ways of life and key pieces of the economy. Authorities have detected the high levels of […]
9 hours ago
Geneva, Fla., resident Joe Shaw, top, navigates his flooded street, Whitcomb Drive, Tuesday, Oct. 4...
Associated Press

Florida’s island dwellers digging out from Ian’s destruction

ST. JAMES CITY, Fla. (AP) — Following Hurricane Ian’s destruction, many residents on one Florida island have stayed put for days without electricity and other resources while hoping the lone bridge to the mainland is repaired. Pine Island, the largest barrier island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, has been largely cut off from the outside world […]
9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
US frees some aid for Egypt, claiming progress on abuses