WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued the following statement about the release of federal dollars to Egypt amid a growing concern for the country’s human rights record.
“I am disappointed by Secretary Blinken’s decision yesterday to release $235 million in Fiscal Year 2022 military aid to Egypt that the law requires be withheld because of egregious and continuing human rights violations by that government.
“The administration did so by exercising a ‘national security waiver’ that Congress inserted in the law for the executive branch to utilize with discretion and judgment. While there have been some releases of political prisoners in the past year, we must note that with every release, the Egyptian government has arrested at least another three individuals on often spurious charges. That is not a step in the right direction.
“This decision further emboldens the regime to continue business as usual – without any improvement on human rights or attempts at systemic change. If we want to show the world that respect for human rights is a core dimension of U.S. national security interests, we need to do more in holding wayward governments accountable.”
The U.S. government withheld and redirected to other countries $85 million in Foreign Military Financing of the $1.3 billion appropriated because it was conditioned on “releasing political prisoners, providing detainees with due process of law, and preventing the intimidation and harassment of American citizens,” and this provision did not include a national security waiver.