News Column

McCain, Graham Urge Release of Islamist Political Prisoners

August 6, 2013
U.S. Sen. John McCain (file photo)

Two US senators called on the Egyptian government Tuesday to release Islamists imprisoned after the ouster of president Mohammed Morsi.

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham arrived in Cairo Monday for talks with Egyptian officials amid diplomatic efforts to end the political stalemate in the country, which has entered its second month.

"We also urge the release of political prisoners," McCain said, adding in reference to Morsi's Islamist political movement: "We also urge national dialogue which is inclusive of all, including the Muslim Brotherhood."

Their visit coincided with that by US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, who has been in Egypt since last week. He has met with top military and government officials as well as senior Brotherhood officials detained in prison.

The Brotherhood condemned Morsi's ouster as a coup and vowed to protest until he is reinstated.

"In a democracy, you have to sit down and talk to each other even if you don't like the person who's sitting across the table," Graham said. "It's impossible to talk to someone who is in jail. ... Most people do not see jailing of the opposition ... as an exercise of legitimate state power."

He and McCain also called on the Brotherhood to refrain from violence. More than 200 people have been killed in clashes since Morsi was ousted July 3 after one year in office.

In the Sinai Peninsula, gunmen attacked an army post and government buildings Tuesday, killing a soldier and injuring four others, security officials said.

It was the second deadly attack in two days by Islamist militants against the Egyptian Army in al-Arish, a main town in Sinai, which borders the Palestinian Gaza Strip and Israel.

Militants stepped up attacks against the army after it removed Morsi.

Meanwhile, security officials at Cairo airport found weapons parts, military fatigues and al-Qaeda flags and propaganda material in the luggage of two passengers arriving from Istanbul.

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Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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