Islamists accuse U.S. of ‘blatant’ meddling

The Freedom and Justice Party allied with Egypt’s president on Tuesday sharply dismissed U.S. criticism of the investigation of a popular TV satirist, calling it a “blatant intervention” in the country’s internal affairs.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday that the interrogation of Bassem Youssef and the issuing of arrest warrants against five anti-government activists underlined a “disturbing trend” of growing restrictions on freedom of expression in Egypt.

She spoke a day after Youssef, who ridicules Morsi and hard-line clerics on his weekly TV show, was released on bail after hours of questioning over accusations that he insulted Morsi, an Islamist, and Islam. Criticism of the president and Islam is considered a crime under long-standing Egyptian laws.

Morsi’s office joined in, rebuking the U.S. Embassy in Cairo after it tweeted a link to Monday night’s episode of “The Daily Show,” in which host Jon Stewart lambasted the Egyptian president, saying it was undemocratic to prosecute Youssef.

Replying to the embassy on Twitter, the Egyptian president’s office wrote, “It’s inappropriate for a diplomatic mission to engage in such negative political propaganda.”

Separately Tuesday, the state Investment Authority said it would revoke the license of the private TV station that airs Youssef’s show if he does not stop using “unacceptable and offensive” language.

— Associated Press

Power station attack leaves seven dead

Several dozen militants armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades attacked a power grid station on the outskirts of the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar before dawn Tuesday, killing seven people and taking four workers hostage, police said.

The militants killed two people at the scene and took nine with them, according to local police chief Granullah Khan. They killed five others as they were fleeing. Three police officers and four power station workers were among the dead.

Many areas of Peshawar lost power during the attack on the grid, which is near Khyber, part of Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal region along the border with Afghanistan and a Taliban sanctuary.

No group asserted responsibility for the incident.

— Associated Press

China frees longtime Tibetan prisoner: Noted Tibetan political prisoner Jigme Gyatso has been released after 17 years in a Chinese prison and is reported to be in poor health as a result of his treatment, according to a spokesman for the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile in India and Radio Free Asia. The 52-year-old former monk was reportedly released about a year early, probably because of poor health, and has returned to his home town in an ethnic Tibetan area in the northwest province of Gansu.

4 more bird flu cases in China: China reported that four more people in one province have been seriously sickened by a bird flu virus new to humans, as cities along the eastern seaboard stepped up public health measures against the disease, which has caused two deaths. Jiangsu province’s health bureau said three women and a man from different cities in the province were critically ill with the H7N9 virus, in the second batch of cases to be confirmed after three in Anhui province and nearby Shanghai on Sunday.

Cypriot finance minister steps down: Cyprus’s finance minister, Michalis Sarris, resigned after less than five weeks in the job, to make way for a government investigation into how the country’s economy nearly collapsed last month. Sarris’s decision came as Cyprus finalized the details of its bailout with international creditors. Harris Georgiades, a former labor minister, will become the new head of finance.

Newspaper offices raided in Iraq: Gunmen in military uniforms burst into the offices of four independent newspapers in Baghdad, stabbing and beating employees, according to staff members and officials. One editor said he recognized the attackers as members of a Shiite militia, saying the raids occurred after his newspaper published an article criticizing a prominent hard-line cleric.

Flooding in Buenos Aires kills 5: Torrential rains in Argentina’s capital triggered flooding responsible for at least five deaths. A record 6.1 inches of rain fell in just two hours during the storm, which caused power outages, flooded subway lines and turned the streets into rivers.

— From news services