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Egypt terminated contract with US lobbyist after Sisi’s interview with CBS

Sisi was grilled on human rights and acknowledged his country's ties with Israel in a controversial CBS interview
Egypt's president Abdelfattah el-Sisi in an interview with CBS on 6 January (Screengrab)

The Egyptian government terminated a contract with a top US lobbying firm days after the American broadcaster CBS grilled Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi about his human rights record, a report has revealed.

According to Al-Monitor, which has reviewed leaked files, a contract worth $2m annually between the Glover Park Group and the Egyptian embassy in Washington was terminated on 15 January, but the reason for termination remains unclear.

The firm, which started working for Egypt in 2013 following Sisi’s coup against his predecessor Mohamed Morsi, had been paid by the UAE for its Egypt lobbing activities, according to a report by the Intercept.

In the interview, which was widely seen and discussed, Sisi denied that Egypt had any political prisoners and justified the killing of hundreds of protesters in the Rabaa massacre in 2013, claims that were dismissed by an American rights group as “laughable.”

Human Rights Watch estimates that Egypt has detained at least 60,000 political prisoners under Sisi’s rule.

“Glover Park was hired to help President Sisi make good on his promise to stabilize Egypt. They produced some glossy brochures that showed that,” said Sarah Margon, HRW's Washington chief, speaking to Al-Monitor.

"Things have gone from very bad to a whole lot worse [since he took office].”

According to a statement by CBS, the Sisi government unsuccessfully attempted to block the airing of the interview. The Egyptian ambassador in Washington contacted the 60 Minutes team after the interview to ask them not to air it.

But the channel went ahead and broadcast the interview in which Sisi confirmed his military had the "closest ever" cooperation with Israel, another controversial statement that may have prompted Egypt to try to block the interview.

Questions about Sisi’s crackdown on human rights were also "not the kind of news [Sisi's] government wanted broadcast," according to CBS.