News / Middle East

Egypt Imposes Jail Sentences on Absent Foreign NGO Workers

Friends of Egyptian suspects react as they listen to the judge's verdict at a court room during a case against foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Cairo, June 4, 2013
Friends of Egyptian suspects react as they listen to the judge's verdict at a court room during a case against foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Cairo, June 4, 2013
Edward Yeranian
An Egyptian court has convicted 43 workers for foreign non-profit agencies, including at least 15 Americans, on charges of illegally using funds to stir unrest in the country.  The decision is apparently aimed at restricting operations of foreign non-governmental groups that advocate democracy.

Egyptian Judge Makram Awad says he was sentencing the foreign NGO workers to five years in prison and fining them 1,000 Egyptian pounds. Most of the Americans affected had left the country months ago, so the ruling was made in their absence.

The employees of U.S.-based democracy advocacy NGOs were given sentences for “illegally using foreign funds to foment unrest” in Egypt.

The court also ordered the permanent closures of the Egyptian offices of the non-governmental organizations, which include the U.S.-based Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute.

A friend of several Egyptians convicted by the court expressed outrage at the ruling.

He said his two friends who work for Freedom House were just employees, who received their salaries every month, but had nothing to do with any illegal activities.  He said they coordinated all their activities with the Egyptian foreign ministry.

Raafat Othman, an attorney for several of the defendants, contends the prosecution's case was weak and that the sentences could be overturned on appeal.

Othman said the verdict was expected due to the current political climate in Egypt.  But he said the case was weak and that the verdict based on political motivations.  He said the verdict will undoubtedly be appealed.

Said Sadek, who teaches political sociology at the American University in Cairo, notes that Egypt's upper house of parliament is considering a new law governing the operations of foreign NGOs.

Sadek said the law is aimed at foreign civil society groups and not at charitable organizations.

"The government is working on trimming the wings of these organizations by controlling their finances," said Sadek. "If you, for example, take funds from an international organization to monitor, for example, torture.....if they don't like it, maybe they will disapprove this funding. Autocratic regimes are always against independent civil society, especially [human rights] organizations and what they do regarding monitoring the activities of government."

The crackdown began in 2011. Egyptian authorities raided the offices of several U.S.-based pro-democracy groups and NGOs and filed charges against 16 American activists on suspicions of using illegally obtained funds to undermine Egypt's stability.

The U.S. workers were released last year after intense behind-the-scenes political negotiations between U.S. political leaders and Egypt's then-ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, even music are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. Faith Lapidus narrates a report from VOA’s June Soh.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, even music are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. Faith Lapidus narrates a report from VOA’s June Soh.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid