The new head of the powerful US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday blocked some $235 million in military aid to Egypt after his predecessor was indicted in a corruption case linked to Cairo.
Senator Ben Cardin, who replaced Bob Menendez targeted by justice, informed the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken that his blocking of funds "will persist until specific progress on human rights is made", he said in a statement.
The Democratic senator is calling in particular for the release of some of the approximately 60,000 political prisoners in the country led by President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.
The State Department last month approved $1.215 billion in military aid to Egypt despite lingering concerns over human rights.
The 235 million blocked by Ben Cardin are linked to respect for human rights, but the administration of President Joe Biden is in favour of sending it due to national security interests.
At the end of September, Ben Cardin's predecessor, Bob Menendez, was indicted for corruption in New York. He is notably accused of having accepted bribes in exchange for using his influence to promote Egypt's interests in Washington.
The Democrat denies these accusations but was removed from the head of the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
Egypt has been a major recipient of US military aid since its historic decision to become the first Arab state to normalize relations with Israel in 1980.