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US urges Egypt gov't to defend political speech

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MATTHEW LEE | May 20, 2013 02:23 PM EST | AP


WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is calling on the Egyptian government to rein in prosecutions of political expression amid what it called a "growing trend" of efforts to punish and deter people from speaking their mind.

Ahead of a planned meeting this week between Secretary of State John Kerry and Egypt's president, the State Department said Monday that it was "deeply concerned" by the rising number of cases against journalists, bloggers and activists who have been detained. The Department says these cases violate Egypt's international obligations to protect free speech and are steps backward in Egypt's democratic transition.

Spokesman Patrick Ventrell wants Egypt's government to take a public stand against such prosecutions. Kerry is due to meet Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in Ethiopia later this week.