State Department withholds award from alleged terrorism supporter

“We, as a department, became aware very late in the process about Samira Ibrahim's alleged public comments. After careful consideration, we've decided that we should defer presenting this award to Ms. Ibrahim this year so that we have a chance to look further into these statements,” Nuland said.  “I would say that, in conversations with us in the last 24 hours, Ms. Ibrahim has categorically denied authorship. She asserts that she was hacked. But we need some time …  in order to be prudent to conduct our own review.”

“We initially selected Ms. Ibrahim because of the incredible bravery and courage she displayed at the time of the Tahrir Square protests. As you may recall, she was detained. She was subject to real police violence. Not only did she speak out about that, but she also became a real leader in her country in trying to address gender-based violence and other human rights abuses,” Nuland said. “So it was on that basis that she was initially selected. But, obviously, these comments need to be looked into. And we need some time.”

She said the department was reviewing its vetting system in light of the accusations.

“The way this process works, award recipients are nominated first by embassies around the world. Then they are reviewed here in Washington,” she said. “In the context of looking at her record, you know that she is a very big tweeter. She has tens of thousands of tweets. So these represent a small portion of those. So, obviously, you know, we're doing forensics internally on how we didn't catch it the first time. But, as I said, we're going to defer presentation.”