Egypt presses ahead with NGO trial of Americans

English: View from Cairo Tower

The North Cairo Criminal Court Sunday starts the trial of 43 pro-democracy activists, including around 20 American citizens, from mostly US civil society groups on the alleged charges of working illegally in Egypt, judicial sources said Saturday.

The sources said that the 43 accused persons, including Egyptians, Americans, Germans, Palestinians, Norwegians and Serbs, were to appear at the court to face the charges of working in the country without proper legal registration, receiving illicit foreign funding, interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs and carrying out political activities unrelated to their civil society work.

The suspects denied these charges, which could lead to prison sentences of five years, they said.

The suspects had been banned from leaving Egypt and some took refuge in the US Embassy in Cairo.

On Thursday, Cairo International Airport authorities stopped a 56-year-old American woman, Mary Elizabeth Whitehead, from boarding a flight to Germany because she was facing trial over illegal funding of civil society groups.

Whitehead, who had taken no luggage with her, tried to board the plane minutes before it was due to take off but was ordered to turn back by airport security officials.

Negad el-Borai, who represents some of the American defendants, said he did not expect them to appear in court.

“I don’t expect them to appear in in today’s session,” he said.
Among those accused is Sam LaHood, Egypt director of the Internatioanl Republican Institute and the son of the US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The case, which was initiated by the prosecution, has caused a crisis in relations between Cairo and Washington, with Congress warning it may cut its $1.5 billion in annual aid to Egypt .

read more at                  news.egypt.com

 

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Posted on February 26, 2012, in Egypt, United States and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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