W House concerned at Egypt action on rights group

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NEW YORK, Sep 25 (Reuters) The White House expressed concern about what it called setbacks on press freedom and civil society in Egypt.

''We are deeply concerned at the Egyptian Government's recent decree authorizing the imminent closure of the Association for Human Rights Legal Aid, a human rights NGO (non-governmental organization), as well as the conviction and sentencing of several newspaper editors,'' White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said in a statement yesterday.

''These latest decisions appear to contradict the Egyptian government's stated commitment to expand democratic rights,'' she said.

''We urge that any appeals process proceed expeditiously and according to international standards of due process,'' Perino said.

An Egyptian court sentenced three journalists from the opposition al-Wafd newspaper to two years in jail yesterday after they were convicted of publishing lies about the justice minister, judicial sources said.

Reuters KK VP0542

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