Sameh Abou Zeid, the judge presiding over the investigation of accusations against civil society organisations of receiving illegitimate foreign funding, says evidence proves that several foreign and local NGOs have indeed received such unauthorized funds.
"Now we are arriving at the next step of investigations, and issuing a [new] warrant to search the headquarters of several NGOs operating illegitimately in Egypt," Abou Zeid told a press conference held at the Ministry of Justice Wednesday.
The press conference took place after authorities had checked the bank accounts of the accused NGOs. In December, Egypt's military rulers pledged to allow 17 NGOs previously raided by security forces to reopen and operate after the US voiced concern. "We decided to search these NGOs' offices as part of the investigation and reveal the whole truth, so that no innocent party is convicted or vice versa," Abou Zeid commented. "Indeed, we managed to seize some documents that prove some of these NGOs receive funds through illegal avenues from overseas without informing authorities."
Recently, the judicial authorities have indicted 43 people – including six US citizens among 29 foreign nationals and 14 Egyptians – working for non-governmental organisations allegedly operating without appropriate licences in Egypt. "All procedures taken throughout the investigation were pursuant to the Egyptian law," Abou Zeid added. US foreign aid to Egypt, totalling $1.3 billion annually, is contingent on the latter's commitment to “democracy”, which the US State Department has to certify, according to a new congressional restriction. Certification now appears to be hanging in the balance.
On Tuesday, a military delegation decided to cut short its trip to the US as the two countries’ relations worsen following indictment of US “pro-democracy” workers in Cairo.