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Egyptian activists outraged over criminal trial of 44 NGO workers for illegal acts in country

Cairo, Tue, 07 Feb 2012 ANI

Cairo, Feb 7 (ANI): Egyptian activists and civil society groups have expressed outrage over the announcement that 44 NGO workers, including 19 Americans, will face a criminal trial for illegal acts, calling it a 'politically motivated investigation into the foreign funding of pro-democracy groups.'


Egyptian authorities recently said they would prosecute the workers on charges of allegedly receiving foreign funds illegally and being involved in banned activities in the Islamic country.


A judge of the Cairo criminal court also accused them of carrying out "political training programmes", supporting election campaigns and illegally financing individuals and groups.


According to The Guardian, critics and activists see the move as a thinly veiled attack on pro-democracy and human rights organisations.


"This is the continuation of the Mubarak-era attacks on civil society groups and it's worse because it's being conducted by Mubarak-era minister of planning and international co-operation Fayza Abul Naga," said Gamal Eid, the head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.


Eid also blamed the US ambassador to Egypt, Ann Patterson, for announcing that the US government was funding groups in Egypt yet refusing to say which groups were the recipients.


According to the paper, those accused waited in trepidation for further details.


"It's inexplicable. We don't even know what the charges are," said Julie Hughes, country director of the National Democratic Institute (NDI).


Hughes and 18 other Americans, including Sam LaHood, country director of the International Republican Institute and son of the US transport secretary, have been banned from leaving Egypt in relation to the case.


Meanwhile, 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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