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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid