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Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Egypt court freezes assets of four rights activists in 2011 illegal funding case

Prominent rights activists Hossam Bahgat and Gamal Eid -- along with their families -- are among the recipients of the freeze

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Thursday 17 Mar 2016
Hossam Bahgat (L) and Gamal Eid
Hossam Bahgat (L) and Gamal Eid (Photo: Reuters/Hossam Bahgat Twitter account)
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A judicial committee overseing a five-year-old investigation into several rights activists accused of receiving illegal funding for their NGOs from foreign sources ordered on Thursday the freezing of assets of four Egyptian human rights activists and their families.

State news agency MENA reported that Hossam Bahgat, who founded the Egyptian Initiative for Personnel Rights (EIPR) in 2004, and Gamal Eid, who founded the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) also in 2004, were among the four whose assets were frozen today.

MENA also reported that a Cairo criminal court has set Saturday 19 March to review the committee's freeze decision.

Both rights activists said that they only found out about the judge's decision from news reports.

Hossam Bahgat said that "I just learned from state news agency of a judicial decision to freeze "all my assets and property."

Last month, in two separate instances, the authorities stopped both well-known rights activists, Bahgat and Eid, from travelling out of Cairo airport, stating that their names were on a no-travel list without providing further details.

The case dates back to 2011, when the Egyptian Ministry of Justice accused several NGOs of illegally receiving funds from foreign governments and institutions based on reports issued at the time by the National Security Agency and the General Intelligence Service.

At the time, the authorities banned several human rights activists who founded NGOs, including Esraa Abdel-Fattah, Hossam Ali and Ahmed Ghoneim from travel.

However, during those interim years, the investigations were suspended and no individuals accused in a case have faced trial till know.

Eid said on his personal Facebook page that "he is ashamed of the kind of justice that bans them from travelling and punishes without any notification or investigation."

"My bank account includes the prize money I received after winning the Roland Berger Human Dignity Award; I [used the money] to start 6 public libraries in impoverished neighbourhoods to serve the residents of these areas including children and young people, Eid said.

Bahgat has been working as investigative reporter since he left the EIPR in 2014.

At the time of the opening of the inquiry in 2011, the authorities banned several human rights activists who founded NGOs, including Esraa Abdel-Fattah, Hossam Ali and Ahmed Ghoneim from travel.

However, during those interim years, the investigations seemed to be closed since none of the defendants were put on any trial.

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