“We have a big problem with the public prosecutor. He's not independent,” says Ahmed Ezzat, a lawyer who is an activist for freedom of expression and attended Qandil's questioning today. He says the types of cases he is pursuing show where his priorities lie. Complaints of police torture and violence committed by the president's supporters do not seem to be pursued with the same vigor as cases against the president's opponents.
The US has been criticized by many Egyptians for not coming down hard enough on the new government for human and civil rights violations, but this string of events seems to have generated concern.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday that the US has “real concerns about the direction that Egypt appears to be moving in," mentioning “recent arrests” – likely a reference to Youssef's case. Earlier this week State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called Youssef's interrogation part of a “disturbing trend of growing restrictions on the freedom of speech” in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party struck back stridently, calling the remarks a “blatant interference in Egypt’s internal affairs” that “raise major question marks about the US administration’s position and discourse.” The party said the “main” complaint against Youssef was defaming Islam, not insulting Morsi.
Morsi's administration released a statement distancing itself from the case against Youssef, saying the prosecutor was acting independently.