The presidency said in a statement just before midnight on Tuesday that it has not filed any complaints against satirist Bassem Youssef.
The presidency said that Egypt’s legal system allows any citizen to file complaints at the prosecutor general’s office. The statement said Egypt is a state of law with an “independent Judiciary”, adding that the summoning of anyone by Prosecutor General Tala’at Abdullah is a decision independent from the executive branch.
The summoning of Youssef has brought significant international attention to Egypt. American satirist Jon Stewart directed a whole segment to President Mohamed Morsi.
Victoria Nuland, the spokesperson of the US State Department, said in a press briefing on Monday regarding Youssef’s summons that “there does not seem to be an even-handed application of justice here”.
On Tuesday Nuland said this was not her view but the view of the US government. She added: “We stand by those views as articulated here yesterday.”
“Our point here yesterday was to say that rule of law needs to be applied appropriately in all circumstances. It’s the same point that we make with regard to countries around the world. So no, we reject the notion that we were interfering,” she said.
The Egyptian presidency spokesperson Amr Amer denied any tensions between Egypt and the US.
The presidency stressed the importance of freedom of expression and said all citizens have the right to express themselves. It urged citizens to exercise that right while respecting the rule of law.
Satirical TV host Bassem Youssef was released after paying a bail of EGP 15,000 on Sunday, following investigations by the prosecutor general’s office. He is being investigated for insulting religion and President Morsi.