Egypt’s Court of Cassation [official website, in Arabic] on Thursday ordered a retrial for 16 out of 43 defendants who were charged with receiving illegal foreign funds without a license “for restricted activities against state policy.”
The defendants had received [Egypt Today report] USD $60 million from organizations affiliated with democracy promotion such as the International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute, Freedom House, International Center for Journalists and Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
In 2012, 43 people were criminally prosecuted for receiving illegal foreign funds without a government license—14 from Egypt and 29 foreigners. A year later in June 2013, the Cairo Criminal Court issued a verdict, penalizing 27 absentees with one to five years of imprisonment. Of those punished, 18 were Americans. All of those sentenced were managers of organizations promoting democracy or human rights in Egypt branches.
The current case is part of a trend of suppression by the Egyptian government that has become an issue between the US and Egyptian relations. A controversial law passed [JURIST report] in 2016 by the Egyptian government to regulate and restrict NGO activity led to a decision by the US to withhold about $100 million in aid [Reuters report] while suggesting that it would delay a further $200 million over concerns of human rights abuse.