Connect to share and comment

Cairo court postpones high-profile US NGO trial

An Egyptian court withholds judgement in a case that has sparked tension with Washington.

EGYPTNGOTRIALEnlarge
Fayza Aboul Naga, Egypt's minister of international cooperation, has been leading the case against foreign-funded NGOs. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

In Egypt, today's opening session of a politically sensitive trial involving dozens of rights workers, including 16 Americans, was quickly adjourned and the next hearing rescheduled for April, according to Reuters.

The 43 non-profit workers are charged with using undiscolsed foreign funding for political purposes under the cover of their non-profit work. Some charges carry sentences of up to five years, and seven of the 16 Americans involved have been banned from leaving Egypt, said MSNBC, severely straining Cairo's ties with Washington. 

Judge Mahmud Mohamed Shukry adjourned the trial until April 26 in today's chaotic opening session in Cairo, announcing that the defendants would not be jailed until the next hearing, said Reuters. Lawyers say the move could open the way for a diplomatic solution.

More from GlobalPost: Egypt: Trial date for pro-democracy activists set

The case has become a political firestorm for Egyptian authorities, potentially endangering the country's $1.3 billion in annual US military aid at a time of rising criminal activity there.

Charges are levelled at several prominent US groups, such as the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and thinktank Freedom House in the case. The son of the US transportation secretary is also accused. 

Arizona Republican Senator John McCain and US officials met with top Egyptian authorities last week in an effort to resolve the issue. 

Meanwhile, local rights activists in Egypt accuse the country's military rulers of using the case to blunt opposition activity there, reported MSNBC.

Activists accuse the military of trying to cling to power following the ousting of longtime President Hosni Mubarak a year ago. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/120226/cairo-court-postpones-high-profile-us-ngo-trial