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A man urges a protester to stop throwing stones at security forces during today's clashes in Cairo.
A man urges a protester to stop throwing stones at security forces during today's clashes in Cairo.
Image: Nasser Nasser/AP/Press Association Images

Foreign NGO workers facing trial in Egypt

The US has warned that it could reconsider its funding to Egypt over pressure on Americans NGOs and staff.
Feb 5th 2012, 5:59 PM 1,900 3

EGYPTIAN JUDGES have ordered 43 NGO workers including US, German and Serbian nationals to stand trial for alleged involvement in illegal activities and receiving illegal foreign funds.

The state’s ruling military council has already accused foreign NGOs of funding protests against their rule.

The military took over after the resignation of president Hosni Mubarak almost a year ago. A wave of protests since then against military rule have resulted in violent clashes with security forces.

Speaking at a Munich security conference yesterday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that the Egyptian action against American NGOs and their workers could impact on US relations with Egypt and warning that the US may pull its funding.

“We do not believe there is any basis for these investigations, these raids on the sites that the NGOs operate out of, the seizure of their equipment, and certainly no basis for prohibiting the exit from the country by individuals who have been working with our NGOs,” she said.

“We have worked very hard the last year to put into place financial assistance and other support for the economic and political reforms that are occurring in Egypt, and we will have to closely review these matters as it comes time for us to certify whether or not any of these funds from our government can be made available under these circumstances.”

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Amr responded today at that same Munich conference by saying that the government cannot “actually exercise any influence on the investigating judges right now when it comes to the investigation”.

The Associated Press says that no date has been set for the trial of the 43 NGO workers, but that they are all barred from leaving the country. Egypt’s military has been investigating NGOs over the ruling generals’ claims that protests against their rule have been foreign funded, and the offices of 17 pro-democracy and rights groups were recently raided by the Egyptian authorities.

Today saw a fourth day of violent protests in Cairo following the riot at a football match in Port Said last week which killed 74 people. Egyptian authorities declared three days of mourning over the deaths, but security forces have been criticised of being unable to prevent violence.

- Additional reporting by the AP

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Susan Ryan

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