Egyptian Court Acquits 40 NGO Workers Whose Case Strained Ties with US


Forty NGO workers, including at least 15 Americans, were cleared by an Egyptian court in a case concerning the work of groups promoting democracy in the country. In 2013, a group of 43 Americans, Europeans, Egyptians, and other Arabs were sentenced to jail terms ranging from one to five years on charges including operating non-governmental organizations without necessary approval. NGOs have felt exposed since late 2011, when authorities raided 17 pro-democracy and rights groups, accusing them of joining a foreign conspiracy against Egypt after the uprising that toppled veteran leader Hosni Mubarak. The groups included the US-based International Republican Institute (IRI), National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Freedom House. “This is a breath of fresh air, I am happy,” said British-Egyptian Hafsa Halawa, a former NDI program assistant, and one of the defendants. “We have all kept our heads down for several years to let this try and blow over.”

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