David J Kramer, president of Freedom House, has hit back at Egypt's Planning and International Cooperation Minister Fayza Abul-Naga after she accused the American NGO of working in Egypt without authorisation.
Abul-Naga was quoted by Washington Post as saying that Freedom House, whose headquarters in Egypt was raided along with other NGO offices, was operating without obtaining the requisite licence from Egyptians authorities, an accusation that many NGOs in Egypt have faced over the last few months.
Kramer, in return, stressed in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine that Freedom House worked in Egypt through legal avenues, saying the organisation had applied many times for the license but was repeatedly ignored.
According to Kramer, Freedom House applied for the licence in 2005 and 2006 and did not receive any reply on both occasions. He says that pursuant to the law, an NGO would automatically acquire the right to operate as long as it receives no official reply within 60 days from the application date.
He also stressed that Freedom House had applied for the licence one more time only three days before the infamous NGO crackdown early in January. Kramer also described Aboul-Naga's allegations as "lies" and strenuously denied that Freedom House had been funding certain political groups in Egypt as has been widely claimed.