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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs