[QODLink]
Middle East

Egypt jail terms for foreign NGO workers

Court sentences in absentia 27 foreigners, including 16 Americans, for receiving illegal foreign funding.

Last Modified: 04 Jun 2013 11:25
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Most of the convicted Americans had left Egypt [EPA]

An Egyptian court has convicted 43 non-governmental organisation (NGO) workers, including at least 16 Americans, of illegally using foreign funds to foment unrest in the country, sentencing them to up to five years in jail.

Tuesday's verdict also ordered the closure and seizure of the offices and assets in Egypt belonging to US non-profit groups for which many of the defendants worked, including the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House.

Most of the Americans had left the country. They include Sam LaHood, son of the US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. He received a five-year jail term.

Of the 43 defendants, 27 received five-year jail terms. Another five received two years and 11 got one year. Defendants tried in absentia typically are convicted and receive the maximum sentence but also get an automatic retrial.

The case began in early 2012 during the nearly 17 months of military rule that followed the ouster in the previous year of US ally Hosni Mubarak.

The case led to a period of tension in US-Egyptian relations, with Washington warning that, unless resolved, the case could lead to the loss of American aid.

Last week, the New York-based Human Rights Watch and 40 Egyptian rights groups said an Egyptian draft law regulating non-governmental organisations would restrict the funding and operation of independent groups.

The contentious bill, proposed by President Mohammed Morsi and currently under debate by the country's interim legislature, would allow the state to control nonprofits' activities as well as their domestic and international funding, HRW said.

The current form of the bill is a serious regression from earlier versions, it added.

271

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps will be released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.