NPR : News

16 Americans Among Nonprofit Workers Convicted In Egypt

Sixteen Americans were among 43 people convicted in Egypt on Tuesday for what the government there has said was illegal interference in the nation's affairs.

Those judged guilty all worked for foreign non-governmental organizations, including two U.S. groups that have tried to promote democracy in Egypt. The government of President Mohammed Morsi basically accused them of trying to undermine that regime by encouraging unrest.

From Cairo, NPR's Leila Faidel reports that 15 of the Americans were convicted in absentia. They include Sam LaHood, the son of outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The 16th American, Robert Becker, "refused to leave Egypt in solidarity with the Egyptian employees who faced charges," she tells our Newscast Desk. He works for the National Democratic Institute.

Becker has been sentenced to two years in prison. Leila tells us he plans to appeal the conviction. It is not known yet whether he will remain free in the meantime.

As we reported in March 2012, the Americans charged with interference denied the accusations. They also said that another charge — that they were in the country illegally — was unfair because the Americans had repeatedly tried to obtain the required clearances but had been ignored by the government.

According to Leila, 27 of the defendants — including the 15 Americans other than Becker — have been "sentenced to five years in absentia." Along with Becker, four other defendants have been given two-year prison sentences. Eleven Egyptians, she reports, got "one-year suspended sentences."

All the defendants were fined 1,000 Egyptian pounds each (about $143). Their NGOs will be closed.

The Associated Press notes that:

"[Former President Hosni] Mubarak, the military rulers who followed him, and now Morsi's government have all been at odds with nonprofits over both their activities and their funding. Last week, the New York-based Human Rights Watch and 40 Egyptian rights groups said an Egyptian draft law regulating non-governmental organizations would restrict the funding and operation of independent groups.

"The contentious bill, proposed by Morsi and shortly to be debated by the country's interim legislature, would allow the state to control nonprofits' activities as well as their domestic and international funding, HRW said. The current form of the bill is a serious regression from earlier versions, it added.

"In a joint statement, the 40 Egyptian rights groups accused Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm of seeking to curb the freedom of rights groups through legal restrictions. ... They also expressed fears foreign nonprofits would be treated with hostility and that vaguely worded legislation would hinder operations or the issuance of work permits."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

After Sketchy Science, Shark Week Promises To Turn Over A New Fin

Shark Week is here, and scientists are afraid. Not of the toothy swimmers — but of inaccuracies, bad science and the demonization of animals that aren't as ferocious as Discovery Channel has made out.
NPR

Do Try This At Home: 3 Korean Banchan (Side Dishes) In One Pot

If you've ever eaten at a Korean restaurant, you're used to the endless side dishes that come out with the meal. They're called banchan, and they're remarkably simple to make for yourself.
WAMU 88.5

Cutting Local Taxes in The District

The D.C. Council has taken steps to accelerate tax cuts for all income earners. They're part of a broader overhaul of the city's tax levels, but some council members argued there wasn't enough time for a rigorous debate about the new schedule. We explore the debate over cutting taxes for D.C. residents and how it affects the city's ability to pay for critical local services.

NPR

Reddit CEO Says Miscommunication Led To Blackout Protest

A user revolt briefly shut down the social site last week after a key employee was dismissed. Interim CEO Ellen Pao says the company has "apologized for not communicating better" with site moderators.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.