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US blasts arrest warrant against Egypt satirist

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 1, 2013 at 5:08 pm •  Published: April 1, 2013

CAIRO (AP) — The U.S. State Department said Monday that arrest warrants and the investigation of a popular Egyptian satirist and other critics of Egypt's Islamist president highlight a "disturbing trend" of growing restrictions on freedom of expression in the country.

The strongly worded statement by U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland Monday came a day after Bassem Youssef, who criticizes President Mohammed Morsi and hard-line clerics on his Jon Stewart-style show, was released on bail following an interrogation into accusations he insulted Morsi and Islam.

Youssef is the most prominent critic of Morsi to be called in for questioning in recent weeks, in what the opposition says is a campaign to intimidate critics amid wave after wave of political unrest in the deeply polarized country. Prosecutors deny launching a political crackdown, saying they are only implementing the law.

Youssef's questioning followed arrest warrants against five prominent anti-government activists accused of inciting violence. Nuland said the administration is also concerned that the Egyptian government has "been slow" or didn't "adequately" investigate cases of attacks against anti-Morsi protesters, journalists and police brutality.

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