Middle East

Egypt blasts UN chief over case of rights groups

  • Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, listens to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during their meeting at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, Pool)

    Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, listens to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during their meeting at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, right, meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, Pool)

    Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, right, meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks to Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, as he leaves following his meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, Pool)

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks to Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, as he leaves following his meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

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.