Americans face prosecution as Egypt ignores Clinton, Congress
Egypt is bringing criminal charges against at least 40 people, including some Americans, in a move that puts $1.3 billion in US military aid to Egypt at risk.
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Officials from organizations that are under investigation said they had not been notified of the charges and were still trying to confirm who is being prosecuted. Julie Hughes, country director for the National Democratic Institute (NDI), another US organization, said she had received verbal confirmation that the case was going to court, but was not notified of who will be charged. Both IRI and NDI, which are funded by the US, conduct programs like training political parties and observing elections.Skip to next paragraph
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At issue is the registration of the organizations. Under Mubarak, Egypt forced civil society organizations to seek registration with the government before receiving foreign aid. The regime used the registration process as a lever of control, and frequently denied or delayed registration.
The military council has continued the policy. The US upped its funding for pro-democracy organizations after the revolution in a bid to support a transition to a civilian government. A large chunk of the $65 million spent in democracy promotion last year went to IRI and NDI.
Both IRI and NDI have submitted registration applications with the Egyptian government, which were never approved, but neither were they outright rejected. IRI submitted its application in 2006, said Scott Mastic, director of IRI’s Middle East and north Africa programs.
“The legal status was, intentionally I think, left in this gray area that allowed the Egyptian authorities to crack down on IRI and its staff really at a whim,” Mr. Mastic said before the prosecutions were announced. The organization has kept the Egyptian government informed of its activities, he said.
The situation escalated on Dec. 29, when Egyptian security forces raided NGO offices throughout Cairo, including the offices of IRI, NDI, and offices of German and Egyptian organizations. Security forces seized computers, documents, and cash, and sealed some of the offices.
“We are concerned for the safety of our staff, both expatriate and Egyptian, and see all of what's happening as a politically motivated attack as opposed to some sort of legitimate legal process or something that merits even the term investigation,” Mastic said last week.
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