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The New Arab

Egypt admits embassies abroad play role in crackdown on dissent against regime

Criticising Sisi and his policies can constitute a crime in Egypt [AFP]

Date of publication: 11 March, 2019

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FM Sameh Shukry said he wants Egyptian embassies to play a larger role in combatting “attempts to undermine the state” in reference to activism and criticism by exiled dissidents

Egypt’s foreign minister has admitted Egyptian embassies are being used in combatting what he said were “attempts to undermine the state” just days after an exiled Egyptian actor was sentenced eight years to prison in absentia for criticising the Sisi regime.

Claiming that Egypt is being targeted by 'terrorists', Sameh Shukry said in a statement that “Egyptian embassies across the world are seeking to counter any attempts to undermine the state by any means possible”, in reference to dissents and critics of the Egyptian regime.

His statement comes days after the Cairo government was condemned by governments for sentencing exiled actor Amr Waked to eight years in prison.

Amr Waked, who lives in Spain, announced this week that a military court convicted him in absentia in two separate cases - the latest in a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent in Egypt.

The 45-year-old actor tweeted that he was handed down a three-year sentence in once case and five-year term in the other case.

Waked, who has been residing in Barcelona since October 2017, said he has no knowledge of what the cases against him are about and cannot return to his home country.

He also suggested his country's embassy had been stalling on renewing his travel documents, suggesting Cairo is using its consular services to punish dissidents. 

Egypt has waged a massive crackdown on dissent since the 2013 overthrow of elected Islamist president Mohammed Morsi after mass protests against his one-year divisive rule.

Last yeat, an Egyptian lawmaker proposed banning foreign-based dissidents from returning to the country and having their nationality stripped, amid a crackdown on opposition activists.

Ahmad Zidan said that he wanted to toughen an existing law criminalising "incitement against the state from abroad".

"There are people who incite against the state from abroad through terrorist channels," Zidan said.

"I am studying putting forward a bill that would ban them from entering the country and strip them of their nationality," he added.

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