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Egypt magistrate names 43 defendants in foreign-funded NGOs case

Defendants - including 14 Egyptians and 29 foreigners - stand accused of working to destabilise Egypt's national security and promoting foreign agendas

Ahram Online, Monday 6 Feb 2012
The NGOs Raid
The NGOs Raid in December 2011 (Photo: AP)
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Ashraf El-Ashmawy, the Egyptian magistrate assigned to investigate NGOs that allegedly received illegal foreign funding – with the alleged aim of destabilising Egypt's national security – issued a statement on Monday that included the names of all the defendants in the case, both Egyptian and foreign. The statement included the names of 29 foreign nationals and 14 Egyptians.

According to the statement, the foreign defendants are accused of establishing human rights organisations in Egypt without formal permission from the Egyptian government. These organisations prepare research reports that are sent to the US, the statement charged. These organisations also provide training for Egyptian political parties and support certain political figures in parliamentary and presidential elections to serve foreign interests, El-Ashmawy alleged in the statement.

The 14 Egyptian defendants, meanwhile, are accused of cooperating with American organisations and receiving some $22 million from the International Republic Institute (IRI); $18 million from the National Democratic institute (NDI); $23 million from the International Journalists Centre (IJC); $5 million from the German Centre; and $600,000 from various secular organisations with the intention of destabilising Egypt's national security and sending reports about the country to foreign parties.

The names of the Egyptians accused in the case are Ahmed Shawky, Ahmed Abdel Aziz, Ahmed Adam and Essam El-Borai, all of whom work for the IRI; Mohamed Ashraf Omar, Raghada Said, Hafsa Maher and Ahmed Morsi, all of whom work for the NDI; Mohamed Abdel Aziz, Gamal Akeel and Bassam Mohamed Ali, who work for the US-based Freedom House organisation; and Yahia Zakaria and Islam Shafik, both of whom work for the American Centre to Support Journalists.

Some of the suspects were surprised to discover that they were being investigated and that they were not being allowed to leave the country – a development that sent alarms through the US diplomatic community. Washington has responded by demanding that Egypt's ruling military council "stop endangering American lives."

The accused, six of whom are US nationals working for publicly-funded US organisations in Egypt, are expected to stand trial at a Cairo criminal court. Notably, Sam LaHood – son of US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood – works for both the IRI and the NDI and is among those barred from leaving Egypt.

In December, Egyptian police raided the Cairo offices of several US-funded NGOs. Even before the raids, Washington had indicated that it would conduct a review of the $1.3 billion in foreign aid given each year to the Egyptian military in the event that Egypt's government continued to "intimidate" NGO employees.

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