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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid