February 05, 2012

Egypt 'to put on trial foreign NGO workers'

Egyptian police raid an NGO office in Cairo on 29 December 2011Computers and documents were seized by Egyptian authorities during December's raids
Egypt says it is to put on trial 40 people - including Americans and other foreigners - over the funding of non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Egypt's ruling military council has accused foreign groups of funding street protests against them.
It has raided the offices of several NGOs and banned a number of foreign staff from leaving the country.
Washington has warned it could review US aid to Egypt unless Cairo respects the rights of NGOs.
"Forty people, including Egyptians, Americans and other nationalities, have been referred to the Cairo criminal court in the NGO funding case," a source told the AFP news agency.
At least 17 US-based and local groups receiving foreign funding had their offices raided by prosecutors in late December.
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), loosely associated with the US Democratic and Republican parties, were among those targeted.
Just over a week ago, several foreign staff - including Sam LaHood, the son of Transport Secretary Ray LaHood who works for IRI - were banned from leaving Egypt.
Egyptian prosecutors said at the time of the raids they were acting on evidence suggesting some groups were violating Egyptian laws, including by not having permits.
But Cairo's action has widely been seen as an attack on free speech and an attempt by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces' (SCAF) to silence critics of its attempt to put down ongoing street protests.
On Saturday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated Washington's warning that aid to Egypt would be reviewed.

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