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Foreign Ministry accuses Amnesty of targeting Egypt in Regeni case

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid decried “the new manner of provocations being pursued by Amnesty International against Egypt” on Wednesday in his comments on the case of murdered Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni, who was tortured to death in Egypt earlier this year.

Abu Zeid also leveled accusations against the UK-based Cambridge University, where Regeni was a doctoral candidate, claiming that Cambridge was refusing to disclose information about Regeni that could aid investigations into his murder, the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported Wednesday.

The official specifically criticized the latest announcement of Amnesty’s campaign, issued on June 20, which calls for “two days of action [on June 25-26] to commemorate five months since the disappearance of Cambridge PhD student Giulio Regeni on June 25, while we also mark the International Day for Victims of Torture on June 26.”

Amnesty’s campaign calls for a vigil at Cambridge University on June 25, along with another outside the UK’s Foreign Office the following day, and has issued an online petition addressed to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni demanding “truth for Giulio Regeni” five months after the Italian student disappeared in Egypt on January 25.

Abu Zeid argued that that this campaign was “a new method of targeting” Egypt, stating that Amnesty International has “directed its criticisms in the past through its periodic reports.”

He went on to express astonishment that the human rights watchdog was partnering up with Cambridge University in its campaign, which he claimed had refused to provide the Regeni family lawyer with any information to help reveal more about his death.

The official pointed out that Italy’s deputy foreign minister had recently leveled similar accusations against the university.

Amnesty International is “not a neutral of a professional organization, as it was deliberately targeting Egypt in its criticism of conditions” in the country, Abu Zeid stated.

Egyptian officials conducting investigations into the Giulio Regeni case have come under a great deal of criticism, both domestically and internationally, over their handling of the case.

After Regeni’s body was found bearing torture marks in a Cairo suburb in February, Egyptian police officers’ accounts initially claimed that Regeni had died in a car accident. Later, the Ministry of Interior’s narrative changed and placed responsibility for his death on “a gang specialized in the theft of foreigners.” Police forces fatally shot five people that made up the alleged gang, killing them before they could be questioned as suspects.

Italian investigators responded by expressing skepticism of the Egyptian Interior Ministry’s claims, saying that the case of Giulio Regeni was “far from closed.”

In June, Giulio’s parent called on the European Union to take severe measures against the Egyptian government in order to ensure a transparent investigation into their son’s brutal murder.