CAIRO: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met Sunday with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during his visit to New York for the U.N. General Assembly, and the two discussed current events in Egypt and abroad.
Present at the meeting were Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Egyptian Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York Amr Abu al-Ata. Topics including Gaza and Libya were discussed.
Presidential spokesperson Alaa Yousef said in a statement following the meeting Monday that Sisi also addressed Ban’s concerns regarding political prisoners in Egypt.
Yousef said Sisi told Ban that as president he could do little to override judicial decisions.
Ban said in an after action following the Sisi meeting that he expressed his concern about detained activists and called for their release on grounds of human rights and freedom of expression.
About 200 Egyptian activists have been on an organized hunger strike inside and outside jail for months demanding the amendment or cancelation of the 2013 Protest Law. Under the law, demonstrators can be jailed for failing to notify authorities of their protests in advance. Permission for the protests, particularly if they contain anti-government sentiment, is seldom given.
In addition to those jailed under the 2013 Protest Law, a number of Al Jazeera staff have been arrested and tried on allegations of terrorist connections and spreading fabricated information about Egypt. Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste were convicted of these charges and sentenced to multiple years in prison in June. The trial has been widely condemned by international governments, NGOS and media organizations, and is seen by many as political retribution towards Al Jazeera’s Qatari government ownership.
Ban also condemned Sunday’s bombing at Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which killed three security personnel.
Sisi’s current trip to the U.S. is his first since becoming president in June. He is expected to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama Monday, Youm7 reported.