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News agency: Ex-Egyptian president's chief charged

By The Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) ' Egypt's official news agency says deposed President Hosni Mubarak's chief of staff has been charged with corruption and abuse of power.

The Justice Ministry said Zakariya Azmi, one of Egypt's most powerful officials under Mubarak, will be tried in a criminal court on charges of "misuse of power, authority of his post and his membership in parliament."

Azmi is charged of "accumulation of wealth in a way beyond what he could have earned from his legitimate sources of income," Egypt's Middle East News Agency reported Wednesday.

Azmi is among dozens of top Mubarak's officials who are in a Cairo prison, facing trial over similar charges. Mubarak himself is on trial on charges of corruption and ordering the killing of protesters. He could face the death penalty.

In another development, the U.S. expressed concern about an indictment against an Egyptian activist, Asmaa Mahfouz.

Mahfouz, a leader of the popular revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, was charged Sunday with inciting violence and released on bail.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters, "The United States believes that all individuals should be allowed to peacefully exercise their right of freedom of expression. We're also concerned by reports of other democracy activists being summoned to appear before a military tribunal."

She said the U.S. supports Egypt;s transition to democracy, "but democracy is not only about elections; it's also about freedom of speech, it's about freedom of assembly, it's about respect for the rights of minorities, and strong and accountable institutions."

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