The US Attorney's Office accuses US Senator Bob Menendez of being an agent in the service of Egypt | International

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Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, last October 4, at the Capitol.MICHAEL REYNOLDS (EFE)

Judicial pressure increases against Senator Bob Menendez. Federal prosecutors on Thursday accused the Democratic legislator from the State of New Jersey of being an agent in the service of the Government of Egypt. The authorities accuse the person who chaired the Foreign Committee of the Upper House of having violated a law that requires Americans to disclose to the Government if they have links with foreign powers. This is the expansion of the accusation formulated a few weeks ago, which stated that Menendez and his wife had received cash, gold and a convertible car as alleged bribes from three businessmen who sought their influence in Washington.

The new accusation has been formulated in the federal courts of Manhattan. Prosecutors believe the senator, 69, along with his wife, Nadine, “promised to do and did do a series of acts on behalf of Egypt, including the Egyptian military and intelligence agents.” The document mentions as the accused the businessman Wael Hana, who, together with Nadie, served to transfer the requests from Cairo authorities to the legislator, a powerful Democrat in the Senate who has been a determining factor in the approval of defense aid to the Middle East. . Menendez is also one of Israel's staunchest supporters.

The Prosecutor's Office assures that these favors occurred between January 2018 and until June of last year. In May 2019, for example, Menendez received an Egyptian intelligence agent in his Capitol office. This visit occurred at a time when several legislators expressed doubts about providing military aid to the African country due to an incident that occurred in 2015, where Egyptian soldiers aboard an Apache helicopter carried out an air attack that seriously injured a US citizen. From Washington it was considered that the Government in Cairo had not properly compensated the victim.

Hana and Nadine, who was the senator's girlfriend at the time, were also present at that meeting. After that visit, the Egyptian agent sent a text message to the businessman in which he stated that if his government received Menendez's help, he would benefit. “These are orders, consider it done,” says the communication in the hands of prosecutors. Hana's lawyers call the accusations “absurd and false.” Menendez also denied the first accusation made by the Prosecutor's Office and asked for an opportunity to defend himself. The legislator refused to leave office. This Thursday he remained silent.

The extension of the accusation includes photographs of Menendez having dinner in Washington with his partner and two Egyptian officials. This is especially serious for Menendez, who as a US legislator is especially prohibited from working for a foreign government. Violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act can carry civilians a maximum prison sentence of up to five years and fines of $250,000. Senator for 17 years and with a term that expires in 2025, Menendez is accused of having written a letter addressed to his colleagues in the legislature to remove obstacles to the sending of aid, for 300 million dollars, that Cairo was going to receive from the United States. Joined.

Hana pleaded not guilty in September to charges of conspiring to bribe an official. “Mr. Hana will vigorously defend himself against this baseless accusation,” said his lawyer, Lawrence Lustberg. The businessman is the owner of the only company that certifies that meat imported into Egypt complies with the Halal procedure. After receiving permits from the Egyptian authorities, Menendez asked authorities from the United States Department of Agriculture not to question the process.

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The help extended to the spring of 2020, when Nadine Menendez organized a meeting between her husband and the same Egyptian official who visited him in his offices in Washington. The topic was the construction of a dam on the Nile, an important issue for the African nation and regional geopolitics. After the meeting, Menendez addressed a letter to the Treasury Department and the current Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, asking the United States to play a more active role in negotiations involving Ethiopia and Sudan.

The accusation has provoked reactions in the Senate. John Fetterman, the diverse Democratic senator from Philadelphia, called this Thursday for Menendez to be expelled. “We cannot have an external agent in the United States Senate,” said the legislator, who has invited the rest of the bench to join in requesting the exit. “He should have been gone a long time ago,” he added on X, the social network formerly known as Twitter. Another 30 senators had already demanded his resignation when the first allegations were made known.

Both Menendez and Nadie are suspected of having received bribes to benefit, in addition to the Egyptian Government, three businessmen. A search by authorities of the home of the couple, who married in 2020, found almost half a million dollars in cash and $100,000 in gold bars. In that original indictment, prosecutors also believe the lawmaker received a Mercedes Benz C-300 convertible and some mortgage payments from him in exchange for favors received.

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