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Presidency denies filing complaint against Egyptian comedian

Published: Updated:

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi's office denied early Wednesday that it filed a complaint against popular satirist Bassem Youssef, meanwhile the United States expressed its concerns following Youssef's summoning.

The presidential office said the country's public prosecution has the right to summon any Egyptian citizen regardless of his status or fame, reported Al Arabiya.

Egypt's prosecution on Tuesday was probing complaints of “threatening public security” against Youssef. He was released on bail on the same day and is facing charges of insulting the president and offending Islam.

Under Egypt's legal system, complaints are filed to the public prosecutor, who decides whether there is enough evidence to refer the case to trial. Suspects can be detained during this stage of investigation.

Meanwhile, the United States said late on Tuesday that it has “real concerns” about the direction being taken by the Egyptian government following recent arrests and political violence.

“We have put a series of real choices to the government of Egypt, but in the end they have to make those choices,” Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters after talks with his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se.

Kerry, who visited Egypt in March, unlocking some $250 million in US aid to help revive the economy, admitted President Barack Obama and the administration “share real concerns about the direction that Egypt appears to be moving in.”

“It is our hope that there is still time to be able to turn a corner,” he said.

“But the recent arrests, the violence in the streets, the lack of inclusivity with respect to the opposition in public ways that make a difference to the people of Egypt, are all of concern today.”

There has been increasing concern in the West about a number of legal complaints against journalists, which have cast doubt on President Mursi's commitment to freedom of expression.

Greater press freedom was also one of the key demands of the popular uprising that toppled long-time leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Human rights lawyers say there have been four times as many lawsuits for insulting the president under Mursi than during the entire 30 years of Mubarak's rule.