4 February 2013

Egypt: U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing: Egypt


Excerpt from the United States Department of State daily press briefing:

QUESTION: Yes, move to Egypt?

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Over the weekend, more violence took place and especially there was a case - obvious case - a televised case of police brutality. And it was not just brutality, it was more than - even trying after that, there was kind of a simplification or - I mean, justification of what happened and he retreat and all these things. I mean, how do you see this escalation of violence and especially when it's done by the police forces?

MS. NULAND: Well, thank you for that. We strongly condemn the recent violence and the attacks that have taken place in Egypt. We are extremely disturbed by these incidents, including sexual assaults against women and the beating of a defenseless man last week. We understand that the Government of Egypt has now apologized for the beating of the individual. We're also concerned that this violence against women is preventing women from exercising their right to peaceful assembly, freedom of association and freedom of expression. And we urge the Government of Egypt to thoroughly, credibly, and independently investigate all claims of violence and wrongdoing by security officials and demonstrators and to bring perpetrators to justice. Accountability is the best way to prevent recurrences of these kinds of incidents.

More broadly, as we've been saying since this spate of violence began, Egyptians participated in their revolution in order to bring democracy, in order to bring rule of law and freedom for all, not more violence, not sexual assaults, not looting. And all Egyptians, regardless of gender, political affiliation, or religion, deserve the right to safe assembly in public without fear of violence. And we call on the Egyptian Government to make that possible.

QUESTION: One follow-up on this, Toria. If we're speaking about the same man who was beaten and I believe stripped and then dragged, are you particularly - at least according to the reporting that I've seen, the police initially denied beating him and he initially denied it. And then a video of it came out and he then subsequently said that yes, this is what had happened. Are you particularly concerned that the police denied beating him and it appears, according to his own statements, leaned on him to deny it as well and only fessed up when the video came out?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, this is why we are calling so strongly today for an investigation of all of these kinds of incidents, because, again, there has to be accountability. That's the best way to ensure that the environment improves both in terms of public security for citizens exercising their rights peacefully and to prevent violence by demonstrators.

QUESTION: Are you aware of any prosecutions that have resulted from cases of the mistreatment either of ordinary demonstrators or sexual assaults on female demonstrators or reporters since the - since Mubarak's downfall?

MS. NULAND: My understanding is that there were some cases brought. I don't know whether they came to conclusion in the context of the initial violence in Tahrir Square, but in terms of this first round, obviously it's early days and we're looking for the Egyptian Government to do the right thing.

QUESTION: Could you take that question just to check with the people in the building who track that --

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm, sure.

QUESTION: -- just to see whether you believe that there has been any significant effort to find and hold accountable those who may be responsible for such acts?

MS. NULAND: We'll see if we have more to say on that.


QUESTION: Could I ask about Iran, please, if that's all right?

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Still on Egypt, please?

MS. NULAND: One more on Egypt? Go ahead.

QUESTION: I just wanted to ask you that - a woman, an Egyptian activist told NPR on Friday that sexual assault by the police and the military is actually a common practice by the military and by the security forces and so on, before Mubarak and after Mubarak, at a time when the Egyptians are actually receiving four F-16s to make a total of 224 thus far.

MS. NULAND: Well, again, Said, I think that speaks to why we are being so strong and so vocal about this. We are now in an Egypt with a democratically elected president who has to be the president for all Egyptians and has to work with security officials to ensure that there is a safe and secure environment for all citizens of the country to express themselves peacefully - as long as they are peaceful.


QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. NULAND: I think - let's move on because we have been at this for quite some time.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) same issue about the (inaudible) two days - in the coming two days. Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, is going to be Egypt. This is the first visit since 1979. Do you have any concern? Do you have any - something to say, as you said when Morsi - President of Egypt Morsi went to Tehran two months ago or three months ago?

MS. NULAND: We've seen these reports that Ahmadinejad will go to Cairo for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. It's an opportunity for the Egyptian Government to give him the same strong messages that the international community's been giving about their nuclear behavior, about their terrorist behavior, et cetera.

QUESTION: Do you have --

QUESTION: Along that, the --

QUESTION: Do you have any doubt or are you pretty much assured that the Egyptians - are you satisfied that the Egyptians will do that?

MS. NULAND: Well, President Morsi's been pretty strong about his concerns with regard to Iranian behavior.

Go ahead, Jo.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:50 p.m.)

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