Egypt has blasted the U.N. chief for calling for a fair trial for two prominent rights activists accused of illegally receiving foreign funds for their NGOs.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid says in a statement Wednesday that comments by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are an attempt to intimidate Egypt's judiciary and meddle in its affairs.

A spokesman for Ban said in a statement Tuesday that he was "following closely" the government's legal case against NGOs over the foreign funds issue and that the two activists — Gamal Eid and Hossam Bahgat — should "benefit from all due process and fair trial standards."

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's government has placed restrictions on civil rights groups at a time when criticism is growing of the country's human rights record, particularly police abuse.