Nineteen Americans Among Those to Be Charged in Egyptian NGO Probe

Egyptian authorities have announced their intention to file criminal charges against forty-three individuals from more than a dozen countries in an investigation into the financing of pro-democracy organizations in the country, the Washington Post reports.

On Sunday, Egyptian authorities announced that they intended to prosecute nineteen Americans as part of the investigation — a development that appears to have further strained the already frayed relationship between the country's ruling generals and the government of the United States. Then, on Monday, Egyptian authorities published the names of forty-three NGO employees 8212 including Sam LaHood, Egypt country director of the International Republican Institute and the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; Julie Hughes of the National Democratic Institute; and Patrick Butler of the International Center for Journalists — and identified fourteen of those individuals as "fugitives," which suggests that several managed to leave Egypt before the government imposed a travel ban on those named in its investigation. Local news reports have said that in addition to the Americans, fourteen Egyptians, five Serbs, two Germans, and three Arabs will stand trial. Egyptian officials have not indicated when formal charges will be handed down, and no trial dates have been set.

Fearing arrest, at least three Americans named in the investigation have sought shelter at the U.S. embassy.

Last December, Egyptian authorities raided the offices of ten NGOs and seized files and computers. The current investigation, led by two judges who were state prosecutors, is predicated on a 2002 law that bars organizations from accepting foreign funding if they are not licensed by the state.

"The continued assault on American, German, and Egyptian civil society is not a 'legitimate judicial process,'?" IRI said in a statement. "It is a politically motivated effort to squash Egypt's growing civil society, orchestrated through the courts, in part by Mubarak-era holdovers."

William Wan. "Egypt Names Americans Charged in NGO Probe." Washington Post 02/05/2012.