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Entries in NGO (7)

Thursday
Mar012012

Pro-Democracy NGO Workers Leave Egypt

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Foreign pro-democracy non-governmental organization workers, who were being held in Egypt, have departed the country, U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland confirmed Thursday.

The news of their departure comes a day after Egypt lifted the travel ban it imposed on a group of workers -- some of them American -- accused of violating Egyptian laws.

“We are very pleased that the Egyptian courts have now lifted the travel ban now on our NGO employees,” Nuland said. “The U.S. government has provided a plane to facilitate their departure.”

Initially subject only to a travel ban, the crisis deepened as the Americans were among dozens of workers of pro-democracy non-governmental organizations criminally charged by an Egyptian court with operating beyond their scope and receiving illegal foreign funding.

But the issue regarding charges against the workers has not been settled, Nuland said.

“The departure of our people doesn't resolve the legal case or the larger issues concerning the NGOs,” Nuland said, adding that the U.S. remains “deeply concerned about the prosecution of NGOs in Egypt and the ultimate outcome.”

American officials were initially perplexed by the travel ban and the subsequent criminal charges given that the NGOs had been operating legally in Egypt for years.

Officials had indicated that not resolving the travel ban and the criminal charges would damage relations between the two long-time partners and put at risk the $1.5 billion in annual aid that Egypt receives from the United States.  Some $1.3 billion of that assistance is military aid.

The initial court date for the NGO workers took place on Sunday, but none of them showed up and the trial was adjourned until April 26.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb292012

US Official: Egypt Lifts Travel Ban on US NGO Workers

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The worst crisis in U.S.-Egyptian relations appears to have been resolved as Egypt has lifted the travel ban it imposed on 16 American pro-democracy workers accused of violating Egyptian laws.

A U.S. official confirmed Egyptian media reports that the Egyptian government had lifted the travel ban it imposed on American pro-democracy activists to prevent them from leaving the country. “That’s my understanding,” said the official who added, “we can confirm we are still in discussions with the government of Egypt.”

The official did not have information as to when or how the affected Americans might make their way back to the United States.

Testifying on Capitol Hill, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said there was still no confirmation of the report. “We do not have confirmation that the travel ban has been lifted,” she said. ” We hope that it will be, and we will continue to work toward that.  The reporting is encouraging, but we have no confirmation.”

Initially subject only to a travel ban, the crisis deepened as the 16 Americans were among 43 workers of pro-democracy non-governmental organizations (NGOs) criminally charged by an Egyptian court with operating beyond their scope and receiving illegal foreign funding.

More than half of the Americans initially subject to the travel ban were not actually in Egypt at the time the ban went into effect.  It’s believed that seven Americans still remain in Egypt with all of them being sheltered at the U.S. Embassy after the U.S. ambassador to Egypt offered them refuge.

At another congressional hearing Wednesday, Clinton sounded optimistic that the crisis might be resolved soon.  She told a congressional committee, “We believe we will resolve this issue concerning our NGOs in the very near future. That is my best assessment sitting here today. ”

She noted:  “I take this very seriously and have expended an enormous amount of energy along with top other officials not only in our government, but we have reached out to many governments.  I believe we will reach a resolution.”

To that end, while traveling in North Africa this past weekend, Clinton was engaged in intensive discussions with Egyptian officials towards the goal of resolving the situation “in coming days.”

American officials were initially perplexed by the travel ban and the subsequent criminal charges given that the NGOs had been operating legally in Egypt for years.  Senior officials like Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey had personally interceded with Egypt’s military leadership to end the long-running situation.

Officials indicated that not resolving the travel ban and the criminal charges would damage relations between the two long-time partners and put at risk the $1.5 billion in annual aid that Egypt receives from the United States.  Some $1.3 billion of that assistance is military aid.

The initial court date for the NGO workers took place on Sunday, but none of them showed up and the trial was adjourned until April 26.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb272012

Egypt Begins Prosecution of Americans on Illegal Fundraising Charges

Egyptian soldiers stand guard in front of the US National Democratic Institute. FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Before a trial that alleges as many as 19 Americans guilty of receiving illegal funding from foreign governments goes too much further in Egypt, the Obama administration is trying to work out a deal with the country.

Even before the trial got underway on Sunday, U.S. and Egyptian officials were discussing ways to work out an equitable solution that won't also affect the $1.3 billion aid package Cairo receives annually from Congress.

The Americans belong to non-government organizations (NGOs), such as the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, which aim to help Egypt transition to a democracy after President Hosni Mubarak was deposed last February.

According to the State Department, the charges brought against the NGOs and 43 pro-democracy activists are fallacious and an attempt to intimidate groups that have issues with the military council currently leading Egypt ahead of elections this spring.

As of now, the charges against the NGOs have widespread support among the population, giving them less of a reason to cut a deal with the U.S.

The prosecution is demanding that the Americans, some of whom sought refuge inside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, be jailed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb052012

Egypt to Send American NGOs to Trial; Clinton Calls for Resolution

Win McNamee/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Egypt is sending 43 non-governmental organization workers, including 19 Americans, to trial, according to state media.

The Egyptian government has been investigating American NGOs for their pro-democracy work, shutting down their operations for operating illegally and receiving foreign funds.

According to Egyptian media, among those to go on trial is Sam LaHood, the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned officials that the $1.3 billion in military aid for Egypt could be in jeopardy if the probe is not resolved soon.

“We are very clear that there are problems that arise from this situation that can impact all the rest of our relationship in Egypt,” Clinton told reporters at an international conference in Munich. “We don’t want that.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan272012

Egypt Preventing US Human Rights Workers from Leaving Country

Egyptian soldiers stand guard in front of a U.S. NGO in Cairo on Dec. 29, 2011. FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Four weeks after their offices where raided by Egyptian soldiers, 10 or more American and European human rights workers have been forbidden from leaving the country.

One of the "virtual" captives is Sam LaHood, the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

At the time it happened, a spokesman for Egypt's general prosecutor's office said the 17 raids on at least 10 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were in response to accusations that they were allegedly operating without licenses and had taken foreign money illegally.

However, critics contend that the military regime that replaced ousted President Hosni Mubarak one year ago is simply trying to exert its authority over independent groups monitoring its activities.

The three U.S.-based entities were Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute.

Besides causing an international incident, Egypt is jeopardizing the $1 billion in annual aid that it receives from the U.S.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s son was informed by his attorney he is under investigation on suspicion of managing an unregistered NGO and receiving "funds" from an unregistered NGO.

After the President Obama-supported ouster of longtime U.S. ally Mubarak, hard-line Islamists have swept into power in Egypt and elsewhere as part of the so-called "Arab Spring" democratic movement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec302011

Egypt Agrees to Release NGO Property, Cease Harassment: US Official

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CAIRO, Egypt) -- According to a Senior Administration official, the U.S. Ambassador in Egypt Anne Patterson has received assurances from Egyptian authorities that they will release the property of Non-Government Organizations, including several supported by the U.S. government, that were raided in Cairo Thursday.
 
“The Ambassador has sought and received Egyptian leadership assurances that the raids will cease and property will be returned immediately. She has also made clear that we expect all international NGOs, including those that receive U.S. government support, be able to return to normal operations as soon as possible in support of the democratic transition underway in Egypt,” the official said.
 
Patterson spoke with Egypt’s new Prime Minister and military leadership Thursday and again Friday.
 
“Ambassador Patterson has agreed to participate in a dialogue with appropriate Egyptian authorities to resolve the underlying issues related to the operation of U.S.-supported NGOs in a transparent, open manner. These NGOs should be allowed to operate freely as they do in countries around the world in support of democracy and free elections,” the official added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec302011

US Responds to Raids of American-Based NGOs in Egypt

FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House was taken aback Thursday by reports that Egypt's military government sanctioned the raids of right groups in Cairo and elsewhere, including three U.S.-based organizations.

A spokesman for Egypt's general prosecutor's office said the 17 raids on at least 10 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) was in response to accusations that they were allegedly operating without licenses and had taken foreign money illegally.

But critics contend that the military regime that replaced ousted President Hosni Mubarak is simply trying to exert its authority over independent groups monitoring its activities.

The three U.S.-based entities were Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, "This action is inconsistent with the bilateral cooperation we have had over many years."  She added, "We don't think that this action is justified, and we want to see the harassment end, and we want to see the property returned and the staff allowed to proceed as normal."

David Kramer, the president of Freedom House, was more critical of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces -- the military chiefs now ruling Egypt -- saying, "These actions come in the context of an intensive campaign by the Egyptian government to dismantle civil society through a politically motivated legal campaign aimed at preventing 'illegal foreign funding' of civil society operations in Egypt."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio