Two members of the U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch say Egypt has barred them from entering the country ahead of a report critical of the killings by security forces last year.
The group's officials, executive director Kenneth Roth and his Middle Eastern director, Sarah Leah Whitson, said Monday Egyptian authorities held them overnight at the Cairo airport before denying them entry for "security reasons." Roth said it "appears the Egyptian government has no appetite to face up to the reality of these abuses, let alone hold those responsible to account."
State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said Monday the United States is disappointed that the two individuals were not allowed to enter Egypt. She said the U.S. encourages the government of Egypt to conduct a transparent investigation into the protester deaths.
The rights activists had flown to Egypt for release of the report marking a year since at least 1,150 protesters were killed demonstrating against the army's overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. The protesters had been camped out around Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque when police moved in to disperse them.
The government said at the time the protesters were a threat to public order, but Human Rights Watch said the police and the army "methodically opened fire with live ammunition."
Egypt's army chief at the time, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, has since been elected president.