The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Egypt closes decade-old, controversial foreign funding case Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Egypt closes decade-old, controversial foreign funding case

Defendants charged with receiving illicit foreign funds for NGOs leave a courtroom in 2012 [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 December, 2020

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
Egypt closed a long-running investigation into 20 NGOs accused of illegally receiving foreign funds.

An Egyptian appeals court on Saturday ordered the closing of a long-running investigation into 20 non-governmental organisations accused of illegally receiving foreign funds, the court and a judicial source said.

"The designated Cairo Appeals court judge Ali Mokhtar issued an order that no criminal case may be opened into (the) 20 organisations... and that investigations have concluded," said the Cairo Appeals Court in a statement.

The case known locally as "Case 173" dates back to shortly after the 2011 revolution that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Authorities in December 2011 raided the headquarters of multiple NGOs including US-based Freedom House, the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute.

Egyptian state media accused them of involvement in a foreign plot to destabilise the country, in a case that strained ties between Cairo and the Obama administration.

The raids led to charges against 43 defendants, including Egyptians and other Arab citizens as well as Americans and Europeans.

Many, such as Sam Lahood - son of Ray Lahood who served as US Transportation Secretary under Barack Obama - had left Egypt but were tried in absentia.

In 2013 they were all handed prison terms of between one and five years.

In 2016, a court also froze the Egypt-based assets of several of the organisations and imposed travel bans on their staff, as well as opening investigations into new organisations and individuals. 

In December 2018, the original 43 defendants were acquitted, but the asset freezes and travel bans remained in place. 

A judicial source confirmed to AFP that Saturday's ruling effectively closes the original case.

The ruling lifts asset freezes and staff travel bans on 20 organisations, which include children's charity Coptic Orphans and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, the court statement said.

The status of the new groups targeted in 2016 was not clear.

Egypt has stepped up its crackdown against civil society since President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on civil society since he took office in 2014, a year after leading the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Ahead of Sisi's three-day visit to France this month, more than a dozen human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch urged French President Emmanuel Macron in a joint statement to end his "unconditional support for the Egyptian government".

On Thursday, three staff from the Egyptian Initiative of Personal Rights, a leading human rights group, were released from jail following a concerted international campaign calling for their release.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay connected

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More