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Egypt court upholds asset freeze against 5 rights activists in NGO funding case

The court, however, rejected asset freeze on the defendants' families

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Saturday 17 Sep 2016
Hossam, Gamal
Egyptian Rights activist Hossam Bahgat, founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), and Gamal Eid, founder of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information in court on Saturday, Sept. 17. (Photo: El Sayed Gamal El-Din)
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An Egyptian court on Saturday upheld an administrative order of asset freeze against five well known Egyptian rights activists over accusations of receiving foreign funding to destabilise the country following the 2011 uprising.

The court, on the other hand, ordered to lift the asset freeze on the activists' families.

The activists include Hossam Bahgat, founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), Gamal Eid, founder of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information and Bahey El-Din Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS).

The asset freeze also applies to the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre and its director Mostafa El-Hassan, as well as the Egyptian Center for the Right to Education and its director Abdel-Hafiz Tayel.

In a statement following the ruling, EIPR said the case has been exploited by authorities for five years to crack down on civil society groups.

The group vowed that it will continue to defend rights and freedoms and carry on with its efforts to "change security practises against human rights ...despite the ongoing assault by the state and its institutions on all forms of civil organisation and initiatives in Egypt."

In February, the authorities froze the assets of several Egyptian human rights activists and their families and banned them from travel as part of its reopening of a five year old case.

Since late 2011, a number of rights activists have been facing charges of illegally receiving foreign funding for their NGOs, but the case was put on hold until recently.

Heba Morayef, assosictae director of EIPR and former Egypt director of New York-based Human Rights Watch, slammed the verdict as "a huge blow to civil society in Egypt and part of a bigger planned criminal prosecution."

In a press release after today's ruling, Bahey El-Din Hassan said that “The independent human rights organizations in Egypt will continue to fulfil their moral duty to all Egyptian citizens who have been or will be victimized, regardless of their political, religious, ethnic, or sexual orientation, regardless of the upcoming asset freeze judgement and regardless of the cost.”

In early September, an Egyptian administrative court ruled that NGOs have the right to receive foreign funding. The verdict could be used by defendants as a legal precedent in ongoing cases.

 

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