The United States Department of State has still not been given a reason for the detention of an employee of its embassy in Cairo.
Spokeswoman for the State Department Marie Harf said on Friday that “no charges have been filed to our knowledge, and nothing new in terms of…why he’s been arrested.”
“What we’ve said…are two things: that they need to tell us why he’s been detained, and they need to say so publicly, officially,” added Harf. “And the second is that we have been concerned about the climate in general in Egypt for political discourse and discussion based on a lot of things the Egyptian government itself has done.”
Locally employed staff member Ahmed Aleiba has been detained since 25 January and has not faced official charges. Spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Badr Abdelatty confirmed Aleiba’s detention and said, as an Egyptian, he would be treated according to Egyptian laws.
The employee is reportedly being investigated for taking part in an illegal demonstration and for “communicating with an outlawed group”.
Harf confirmed that he was a member of the embassy’s political section and “performed a number of duties” that fell under interpreting political developments on the ground and “connect American diplomats to a wide variety of political actors” to allow the US government to “inform [its] policy decisions based on those discussions”.
“We all have speculation on why we think he was detained and remains in detention without charges being filed,” said Harf. “But that’s why we’ve said very clearly they need to tell us why, because we do have suspicions.”
The spokesperson also said that she was not aware of any restrictive measures regarding contact between embassy employees and members of the Muslim Brotherhood. “We’ve said we’ll continue working with them,” she said, adding: “The government of Egypt has never contacted the embassy, discouraging us from meeting with members of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
In a press briefing the previous day Harf said that the government had been clear that it was “going to meet with a wide variety of groups”.
The State Department also reiterated its concerns about “the inclusiveness about the [political] process” and “Egyptians of different parties being able to peacefully demonstrate and express their political views.”