Egypt’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Criticizes Amnesty International

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid condemned Amnesty International for its comments and allegations made against Egypt in his statement on the case of the Ph.D. student Giulio Regeni who was tortured and murdered in Egypt.

Abu Zeid specifically criticized the latest Amnesty campaign issued on June 20, which calls for “two days of action [on June 25-26] to commemorate five months since the disappearance of Cambridge Ph.D. student Giulio Regeni on June 25, while we also mark the International Day for Victims of Torture on June 26.”

The London-based rights organization called for a vigil at Cambridge University on June 25, along with another outside the UK’s Foreign Office the following day. It has also issued an online petition addressed to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni demanding “truth for Giulio Regeni” five months after the Italian student disappeared in Egypt on January 25.

Moreover, the Egyptian official said that the campaign was “a new method of targeting” Egypt, stating that Amnesty International has “directed its criticisms in the past through its periodic reports.” He also accused the human rights watchdog of bias and implementing double standard policies as it is coordinating now with Cambridge University in its campaign, which he claimed had refused to provide the Regeni family lawyer with any information to help reveal more about his death. Abu Zeid told the journalists that he is astonished that the organization did not mention in its letter that the University of Cambridge did not cooperate with Italian investigators. “This affirms their bias,” he added. Abu Zeid said that Amnesty International is “not a neutral or a professional organization, as it was deliberately targeting Egypt in its criticism of conditions” in the country.

Italian officials accusation that Cambridge was not cooperating with Italian investigations in the case was previously denied by UK University. The Guardian published a letter signed by several Cambridge professors that denounced the Italian reports, which claimed that Regeni’s professor refused to help investigators and withheld information about his work in Egypt. The letter reads: “These allegations are simply not true.” “All those at Cambridge associated with Giulio Regeni have cooperated with the investigation from the beginning, providing answers to any questions, either orally or in writing.”

Egypt has been subjected to massive criticism for not cooperating with the Italian counterparts over Regeni’s case. Regeni’s body was found brutally tortured and murdered after his disappearance in Cairo, with the signs of Egypt’s security forces on his body. Since the military coup in 2013, harsh arrest campaigns and arbitrary detentions have taken place in the country that turned Egypt to a State of terror.

In fact, the Egyptian authorities denied the accusation and they narrated different stories about the murder. First, they claimed that Regeni died in a car accident. Later, the Ministry of Interior narrated a different story saying that Regeni was kidnapped and killed by “a gang specialized in the theft of foreigners.” Police forces have shot dead five people that made up the alleged gang, killing them before they could be questioned as suspects. Italian investigators responded by expressing skepticism of the Egyptian Interior Ministry’s claims, saying that the case of Giulio Regeni was “far from closed.”

As a result, Regeni’s parents said in June at the European Parliament’s human rights commission that Italy and Europe must up the pressure on Egypt to obtain a transparent probe into the death of Giulio Regeni, tortured and murdered in Cairo. Paola and Claudio Regeni said that EU member states must recall their ambassadors and declare Egypt an unsafe country. They said, “We don’t understand whether Italy is still a friend of Egypt or not: you don’t kill the children of your friend.”