After travel ban, British charity worker allowed to leave Egypt

Authorities at the Cairo International Airport on Tuesday allowed a British charity worker to leave the country, after she was barred from flying out last week due to a government investigation into NGOs operating in the country.

State-run news agency MENA said Diane Diacon arrived at the airport with an official from the British Embassy, who informed airport officials that the attorney general had approved her travel as she was not implicated in the NGO investigations. She was then allowed to board the London-bound flight.

The state-run news agency MENA reported that Diacon was prevented from traveling Friday, as she was on a list of foreigners under investigation over ties to foreign non-profit groups accused of fomenting unrest in the country.

Diacon is listed as the director of the Building and Social Housing Foundation on its website. The charity has been working on a housing project in southern Egypt.

Investigating judges Sameh Abu Zeid and Ashraf Ashmawi, assigned by the Justice Ministry to investigate accusations against several non-governmental organizations working in Egypt, announced last week the names of 43 suspects who were being referred to the Cairo Criminal Court. Those under investigation have been banned from leaving Egypt.

The judges said the foreign NGOs had violated Egyptian tax law by not declaring their income from abroad or paying taxes for their workers' salaries, and had carried out political activities unrelated to their civil society work.

The case has led to a diplomatic row with Washington, which is now warning that Egypt's US$1.3 billion in annual military aid may be at risk.

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