US, Egypt ties strained over NGO prosecutions
CAIRO / WASHINGTON
An Egyptian woman runs away after being caught between riot police and stone-throwers during clashes near the Interior Ministry in Cairo. The US said it was ‘deeply concerned’ which threatened to further strain ties with Egypt’s new rulers. AP photoEgypt has brought 19 Americans and 24 other employees of nonprofit groups to trial before a criminal court on accusations they illegally used foreign funds to foment unrest in the country. The United States said it was “deeply concerned” over the developments, which threatened to further strain ties with Egypt’s new rulers.
Egypt’s military rulers had already deeply strained ties with Washington with their crackdown last December on U.S.-funded groups promoting democracy and human rights who were accused of stirring up violence in the aftermath of the uprising a year ago that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. The decision to send 43 workers from the various groups to trial marks a sharp escalation in the dispute.
Egypt and the U.S. have been close allies for more than three decades, but the campaign against the organizations has angered Washington and jeopardized the $1.5 billion in aid Egypt is set to receive from the U.S. this year.
On Feb. 4, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Egypt that failure to resolve the dispute may lead to the loss of American aid. Egyptian Minister Mohammed Amr responded Feb. 5 by saying the government cannot interfere in the work of the judiciary.
US seeks ‘clarification’
After the decision, the U.S. demanded “clarification” Feb. 5 over incidents. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington was “deeply concerned” over the developments, which threatened to further strain ties with the country’s new rulers.
“We have seen media reports that judicial officials in Egypt intend to forward a number of cases involving U.S.-funded NGOs to the Cairo criminal court,” Nuland said. “We are deeply concerned by these reports and are seeking clarification from the government of Egypt.” The offices of Freedom House and the International Republican Institute (IRI) were among 17 local and international NGOs raided in December 2011 by Egyptian authorities as part of a probe into alleged illegal funding.
Among those barred from leaving the country is the Egypt director of IRI, Sam LaHood, the son of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
Compiled from AP and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.