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Egypt to prosecute 44 NGO workers, including 19 Americans, for illegal acts in country

Cairo, Mon, 06 Feb 2012 ANI

Cairo, Feb 6 (ANI): Egypt will prosecute 44 non-governmental organization workers, including 19 American nationals, on charges of allegedly receiving foreign funds illegally and being involved in banned activities in the Islamic country.


Egyptian officials said the workers would be put before the court as investigating judges claimed they had reasons to try the democracy and rights workers.


The move came after American NGOs such as Washington-based National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, along with more than a dozen foreign groups, were raided in late December.


All 19 American aid workers sought shelter in the US embassy in Cairo more than a week ago after they were denied the opportunity to leave the country, Fox News reports.


Sam LaHood, International Republican Institute, said that the penalty for charges levied on the workers could be six months to five years in jail.


"If it does go to trial, a trial could last up to one year in a case that's as wide-ranging as this one is. But the penalty for that is six months to five years in jail so these are very serious charges," he said.


According to the report, the move is likely to further sour relations between Egypt's military rulers and the United States.


State Department spokesman Mark Toner expressed concern over the reports, and said the diplomatic agency was trying to look into the matter.


"We have seen media reports that judicial officials in Egypt intend to forward a number of cases involving U.S.-funded NGOs to the Cairo criminal court. We are deeply concerned by these reports and are seeking clarification from the government of Egypt," Toner said. (ANI)


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