President Obama To Mubarak: Free Speech Is Human Right

Calls on Egyptian president to re-open Internet, social networks, cell phone service.

With the clampdown on media access in Egypt continuing, President Barak Obama said late Friday that free speech is a human right Egyptian citizens deserve.

In his strongest statement on the crisis there, President Obama asked Eqyptian President Hosni Mubarak to restore communications. "I call upon the Egyptian government to reverse the actions that they've taken to interfere with access to the Internet, to cell phone service and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st century."

"The people of Egypt have rights that are universal," he said. "That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny."

Obama has been treading carefully out of concern both for a historic ally and for the communication freedom that the U.S. has made a foreign policy imperative.

In a speech a little over a year ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that an open Internet was a freedom similar to the Four Freedoms articulated by Franklin Roosevelt as what the U.S. was fighting for in World War II.

President Obama said he had talked to Mubarak Friday saying that Mubarak had to put meaning behind his call for greater Democracy in his country.

Mubarak said Friday he was not stepping down, and according to various reports dismissed his government saying he would form a new cabinet Saturday.

The unrest in the Arab world--protests in Tunisia and Jordan, among others--has helped to boost oil prices and send the previously climbing stock market in the other direction.