PARIS – France is selling another 30 Rafale fighter jets to Egypt in a deal condemned Tuesday by rights advocates, including the French wife of a jailed activist.
The deal, confirmed separately by both countries, will build up Egypt's fleet of the advanced warplane to 54, second only to the French air force. The sale makes good on France's policy of not conditioning its economic and defense cooperation with Egypt on progress on human rights.
The wife of jailed Palestinian-Egyptian activist Ramy Shaath said France should be using the sale as leverage to pressure for human rights improvements and prisoner releases.
“It’s never too late. The planes have not been delivered yet,” Celine Lebrun-Shaath told The Associated Press. "The strategic partnership between France and Egypt is important but should be based on shared values and the respect of international law.”
“The implications of France's failed diplomacy is my husband's continued unjust imprisonment for 670 days,” she added.
Shaath, the son of a former Palestinian foreign minister, was detained in 2019 but has not been charged, and his wife, a French citizen, was deported.
The Egyptian military said the Rafale purchase would be financed with a 10-year French loan. The value of the deal wasn't given.
The Geneva-based MENA Rights Group, which campaigns for rights and freedoms in the Mideast and North Africa, said the deal “clearly shows that the fate of the many human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience currently in jail does not carry much weight."