AFP: U.S. Hasn't Seen Formal Charges Against NGO Workers in Egypt

February 9, 2012

US says it has not seen Egypt charges against NGO staff
Agence France Presse

The United States issued a correction Thursday saying it has not yet obtained a document outlining the formal charges against US citizens working for pro-democracy groups in Egypt.

"Yesterday, I implied that we had the document and that we needed to translate it and read it. It turns out that that was inaccurate," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

Nuland said lawyers representing the United States in Egypt told her the magistrate investigating the activities of pro-democracy groups in Egypt has forwarded a charging document to the public prosecutor.

But that is as far as it has apparently gone.

The US embassy in Cairo has not the seen the document, Nuland said. The lawyers representing the US citizens targeted by the investigation and the organizations they worked for have not seen the document, either.

"So we are asking for it. But we are still waiting for it, as are the attorneys for the affected Americans. So we haven't actually been able to get off square one to begin to look at it, and evaluate it," Nuland said.

Egyptian judicial sources said Sunday that 44 people, including 19 Americans, would stand trial over the alleged illegal funding of non-government organizations promoting Egypt's fledgling democracy.

The aid workers are accused of "setting up branches of international organizations in Egypt without a license from the Egyptian government" and of "receiving illegal foreign funding."

Several of the Americans had previously been banned from leaving the country.

Cairo prosecutors in December stormed the offices of the US-funded International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House as part of a probe into allegations of illegal foreign funding.

They were among 17 offices of local and international NGOs raided. The crackdown was part of a wider campaign by Egypt's military rulers to silence dissent after months of criticism of its human rights record, analysts said.