April 2 - The U.S. accuses Egypt of muzzling free speech after Egyptian prosecutors question a popular television satirist over allegations he insulted President Mohamed Mursi and Islam. Sarah Sheffer reports.
Well-known in Egypt for his biting satire, comedian Bassem Youssef has been in trouble with the Egyptian authorities. His weekly TV show prompted the prosecutor-general to order his arrest on charges of insulting the president. But the case has attracted the attention of the United States, who accuse Egypt of muzzling free speech. (SOUNDBITE) (English) STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON VICTORIA NULAND SAYING : "We are concerned that the public prosecutor appears to have questioned and then released on bail Bassem Youssef on charges of insulting Islam and President Mursi. This coupled with recent arrest warrants issued for other political activists is evidence of a disturbing trend of growing restrictions on the freedom of expression." Making his way through a crowd of supporters, Youssef turned himself in to authorities on Sunday. He was released on bail after questioning. The U.S. also suggested the Egyptian authorities were selectively prosecuting those accused of insulting the government while ignoring or playing down attacks on anti-government demonstrators. A week ago, authorities ordered the arrest of several opposition activists accused of inciting violence against Mursi and the ruling Muslim Brotherhood.