Defendants’ names in NGO funding case revealed as US warns Egypt

Egypt on Monday released the names of 19 Americans who face trial over foreign funding of NGOs, a case that has soured US-Egypt relations.

One of the 19 is Samuel LaHood, son of US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, according to a statement from the Egyptian prosecutor's office. Five other Americans remain Egypt, while the others have left, it said.

Altogether, 43 people face trials over illegally operating NGOs in Egypt and receiving funds from abroad without the permission of Egyptian authorities. Egypt charges that they fund and support anti-government protests, an allegation denied by the defendants.

Washington has reacted angrily to the case, which started with raids last month on the groups’ offices. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has warned the raids could jeopardize US aid to Egypt, which amounts to more than US$1billion a year.

On Monday, Susan Rice, US ambassador to the United Nations, said that US citizens involved in the dispute have been working to build a more democratic society in Egypt and "have done absolutely nothing wrong."

She told "CBS This Morning" that US officials have been in close touch with the Egyptian government, including "in the last days and hours." She said the situation "has serious consequences for our bilateral relationship."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said the government cannot interfere in the work of the judiciary.

"We are doing our best to contain this but… we cannot actually exercise any influence on the investigating judges," he told reporters at a security conference in Munich, Germany on Sunday, before the announcement that charges would be filed against the foreign activists.

The names of the forty-three suspects were announced on Monday by counselors Sameh Abu Zaid and Ashraf Ashmawi, who headed Egypt’s investigation into NGO funding. The judges were assigned by the justice minister to investigate the case.

The investigation officially began in December when prosecutors, accompanied by heavily armed security forces, raided 17 pro-democracy organizations, including the US-based National Democratic Institute — founded by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright — and the International Republican Institute.

The forty-three defendants were charged with responsibility for the establishment and management of branches of foreign NGOs in Egypt, receiving funds from foreign agencies and spending these funds on their activities without approval from the Egyptian government.

In a statement, the judges said that 14 defendants, including Samuel LaHood, established and managed the International Republican Institute in Egypt and received foreign funding for it.

The statement added that 15 of the accused were responsible for establishing and managing the National Democratic Institute in Egypt and received foreign funding for it, including Julie Hughes, country director for the organization.

The statement continued that seven defendants, including Charles Dunn, regional director of Freedom House in Egypt and the Middle East, were responsible for establishing and managing a Freedom House branch located in Garden City.

It went on to say that five defendants were responsible for establishing and managing the International Center for Journalists in Cairo located in Zamalek, including Patrick Butler, head of the organization.

The final two accused were responsible for managing the Germany-based policy organization Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.

Abu Zaid said investigations were ongoing with a number of individuals and Egyptian and foreign organizations as well as with a number of other entities working in violation of the law. He explained that all of the defendants were banned from travel and that the fugitive defendants were on watch lists.

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