New York, Oct 23 (EFE).- Democratic US Senator Bob Menendez, accused by the US Attorney’s Office of multiple corruption crimes in favor of Egypt, pleaded not guilty on Monday to the additional charge of acting as a “foreign agent” for that government.
Menendez was indicted on Oct. 12 on this new charge, which was added to others related to accepting bribes along with his wife, Nadine Arslanian, in exchange for using their political influence to “protect and enrich those businessmen and benefit the government of Egypt.”
“As part of the scheme, Menendez provided sensitive, non-public US government information to Egyptian officials and otherwise took steps to secretly aid the government of Egypt,” according to the text of the grand jury indictment posted on the US Justice System platform.
Menendez, 69, previously pleaded not guilty to bribery charges and has refused to resign, so he was not expected to admit guilt in this new indictment.
His wife, Nadine, and one of the businessmen involved in the alleged bribery scheme, Wael Hana, already appeared before the judge last week and denied responsibility for Menendez’s alleged role as an agent for Egypt.
Following the new indictment, Menendez, who is of Cuban origin, claimed to have been “loyal to only one country: the United States of America” and alleged a “long record of standing up for human rights and democracy in Egypt and challenging leaders of that country, including President El-Sisi on these issues.”
The Menendezes allegedly received bribes from at least 2018 to 2022, including cash, gold, payment of a mortgage, a job requiring almost no attendance for Nadine, and a Mercedes-Benz vehicle.
Regarding the cash found by the authorities in his home, nearly half a million dollars in clothes, closets and a safe, the senator claimed that “for 30 years, I have withdrawn thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings account, which I have kept for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba.”
Menendez was born in the United States to Cuban immigrants who fled Cuba in 1953 before the Cuban Revolution during the US-supported dictatorsjip of Fulgencio Batista.
The judge has set the trial for May 6, 2024. EFE