News / Africa

Trial of Democracy Activists Opens in Egypt

Policemen sit in front of a cage holding Egyptian employees of several pro-democracy groups during court proceedings in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, February 26, 2012.
Policemen sit in front of a cage holding Egyptian employees of several pro-democracy groups during court proceedings in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, February 26, 2012.

An Egyptian court has opened the trial of 16 Americans and 27 other employees of foreign non-profit groups charged with illegal political activities and operating without licenses.

Judge Mahmoud Mohammed Shoukry presided over a chaotic opening session Sunday, before adjourning the trial until April 26. Television reporters crowded around the judge while an Interior Ministry official threatened to expel journalists from the rowdy Cairo chamber.

The defendants have been barred from leaving Egypt. Some others left the country before the travel ban was imposed. Still others have taken refuge at the American Embassy in Cairo.

The 43 pro-democracy activists include Sam LaHood - son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. They are accused of receiving illegal funds from abroad, carrying out political activities unrelated to their civil society work, and failing to get the necessary operating licenses.

The groups say they have long sought to register in Egypt. The U.S. State Department has said the groups were there to help with elections. It says the Americans are completely unbiased and do not support or raise money for any individual political candidates.

Washington has warned that it could cut $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid to Egypt if the trial goes ahead. U.S. officials are holding intense discussions with Egypt to resolve the issue.

Along with 16 Americans and 16 Egyptians, the defendants include Germans, Palestinians, Serbs and Jordanians.

The United States is trying to establish better ties with the military council that took power last year following the ouster of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. U.S. legislators and Egyptian activists say the trial is politically motivated. Rights groups have sharply criticized the investigation, saying it is part of an orchestrated effort by authorities to silence groups critical of the military's handling of the country's democratic transition.

Egyptian officials say the trial has nothing to do with the government and is in the hands of the judiciary.

Also Sunday, Egypt's military rulers called on the newly elected parliament to convene March 3 to elect a 100-member assembly to write the country's first constitution since Mr. Mubarak's overthrow.

A power struggle over the future document is rapidly developing between Egypt's army-backed executive and the Islamist-dominated parliament, which wants to curb broad presidential powers.

Political groups, led by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, already have begun talks on the make-up of the constituent assembly. The panel is expected to include legal experts as well as legislators.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid