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April 17, 2014

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Egypt rejects US criticism on detained journalists

Updated Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 | 3:44 a.m.

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's Foreign Ministry has rejected U.S. criticism of the top prosecutor's decision to refer 20 Al-Jazeera journalists to trial, insisting the country's judiciary is independent.

Thursday's comments by the ministry's spokesman, Badr Abdelattie, came a day after Egypt's top prosecutor sent the 20 journalists to trial. They are charged with aiding or joining a terrorist group and endangering national security. No date has been set for the trial.

The decision prompted State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki to say that Washington was "deeply concerned" about the lack of freedoms in Egypt and the country's "egregious disregard for the protection of basic rights and freedoms."

Abdelattie says Egypt's judicial system ensures fair trials and that the government does not interfere in its work.