News / Middle East

Egypt Sets Date for Trial of US Democracy Activists

Egyptian state media has announced that the judiciary will go ahead with the trial of 43 democracy advocates, including 19 Americans, in the case of allegedly illegal funding of foreign non-government organizations.

The announcement by Egyptian state media that the case against foreign and Egyptian democracy advocates, including 19 Americans, will go to trial on February 26 is raising already high tensions between Egypt and the U.S.

The Americans accused in the case have officially been barred from leaving the country.  Sam LaHood, son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood, who is Egypt director of the International Republican Institute, is among those charged.  Several defendants have taken refuge at the U.S. embassy in Cairo.

Egyptian state security forces raided the offices of several international pro-democracy NGOs in December, seizing computers and closing down their offices.

Speaking on Thursday before a U.S. congressional committee, Lorne Craner, president of the International Republican Institute, strongly criticized Egyptian authorities, saying those charged have been denied basic legal rights under Egyptian law.  The IRI chief said the current NGO dispute should be resolved soon.

"Egypt has chosen to make the NGO issue the central concern in America, Europe and elsewhere.  And the longer this issue goes on, the more difficult it becomes to unravel, and the more it poisons any new partnership we might be able to form with Cairo," he said.

The case has prompted intense media scrutiny in both the U.S. and Egypt, heightening tensions between the two long-time allies.  Egypt's International Cooperation Minister, Faiza Abou Nega, has drummed up support for the case in the Egyptian press, for what analysts speculate are political motivations.

Several U.S. members of Congress have urged the Obama administration to cut foreign aid to Egypt over the case. Several prominent members of Egypt's powerful Muslim Brotherhood have in turn called on Egypt to re-examine its 1979 Camp David Peace Treaty with Israel if that aid is cut.

Joint Chiefs of Staff head General John Dempsey met with Field Marshall Mohammed Hussein Tantawi this past week to discuss the case.  Senator John McCain of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is also due in Cairo in several days to meet top Egyptian officials.

Veteran Egyptian editor and publisher Hisham Kassem says that there is a political dimension to the case, and that it has serious economic implications for Egypt.  He argues that the U.S. will probably issue a waiver to avoid cutting the $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt, but believes there will be a freeze in other international aid to the country:

"There will be no investments or loans coming into the country.  This is the perfect way to isolate Egypt from the international community.  I am shocked at statements made by Fayza Abou Nega who is saying that the attack on her coming from the States is a badge on her chest and that she is negotiating loans, when this is a lie.  This is one of the worst things happening in the country now since the revolution began," he said.

Egyptian officials say privately that the country's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is furious about the judiciary case, but are extremely reluctant to interfere.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs