Middle East/North Africa

US confirms arrest of embassy employee in Egypt

The State Department on Wednesday confirmed the arrest of a Cairo embassy employee.

Local hire Ahmed Aleiba, 25, was arrested three weeks ago on the anniversary of the uprising that deposed President Hosni Mubarak, the Associated Press reported. Aleiba had been identified by the ruling military government as an employee who facilitated contacts between U.S. officials and members of deposed President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

“We can confirm that a locally employed staff member of the U.S. embassy was detained on January 25th, and that, as far as we understand, he has been held without charges since then,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “We have been in touch with the government of Egypt and have requested additional information about his case.”

Harf declined to speculate about the reasons for Aleiba’s arrest. But she said the U.S. has not labeled the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization – as Egypt recently has – and that meetings with embassy officials would have been routine.

“We have been very clear in Egypt that we will work with all sides and all parties to help move an inclusive process forward,” she said. “We will continue talking to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as part of our broad outreach to the different parties and groups there.”

Harf again urged the military government to restore democracy as soon as possible. The military deposed Morsi in July and has since cracked down on his followers.

“We’ve also repeatedly, both publicly and privately, called on the interim government to move forward in an inclusive manner, that means talking to all parties, brining them into the process,” Harf said. “We’re not saying what the future government should look like, specifically, other than that it should be inclusive, that, of course, includes the Muslim Brotherhood.”

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