An Egyptian court has convicted 43 workers from foreign non-profit agencies, including at least 15 Americans, on charges of illegally using funds to stir unrest.
The court Tuesday imposed sentences of up to five years in prison on many of the workers. Most of them were sentenced in absentia after being allowed to leave the country last year.
The court also ordered the Egyptian offices of the non-governmental organizations shut down. They include U.S.-based Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute.
The White House says it is deeply concerned by the verdicts, calling it the result of a politically motivated trial. It says the court's decision undermines the protection of universal human rights and questions the Egyptian government's commitment to a civil society.
The crackdown on the NGOs began in 2011. Egyptian authorities raided the offices of several U.S.-based pro-democracy groups and charged against 16 American activists with using illegally obtained funds to undermine Egypt's stability.
That incident triggered a major diplomatic dispute between Egypt and the U.S. An Egyptian judge later lifted a travel ban on the defendants, allowing them to leave the country.