CNN: Egypt sentences American NGO workers to jail
… “Thank you everyone for the kind words. Reviewing my legal/appeals options with lawyers,” he tweeted, adding that he is maintaining his innocence “on charges of starting NGO six years before I actually arrived in Egypt.”
On Monday, he wrote on his blog that if “evidence matters in an Egyptian court, tomorrow’s verdict will be not guilty.” But, he added, “this case has been political from the very beginning; so guilty is also real possibility, despite the lack of evidence.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is “deeply concerned” about the result of “a politically-motivated trial”…
… Yehia Ghanem, an Egyptian who worked for the International Center for Journalists — an American NGO — received two years in jail and vowed to appeal.
“For me and everyone it was clear the prosecution failed to produce a shred of evidence on all the allegations,” he said in a statement Tuesday.
“We were planning on a training course for journalists but we never even had the chance to launch it,” he said. “So it’s amazing to be tried on something that never even happened — it’s a trial on intentions. We didn’t even have a chance to do anything from our good intentions”…
… Robert Becker, a National Democratic Institute (NDI) employee, was the lone American to stay behind, arguing that it was hypocritical to urge Egyptians to stand up for a better system and to turn tail at the first sign of trouble. NDI fired Mr. Becker for his decision, and today he was given a 2 year jail sentence.
His specific crime? “Forming an illegal NGO.” There was only one problem; NDI had been active in Egypt since 2006, and Becker had been hired by the group in 2011. Ahead of sentencing today, he wrote on his blog that the prosecution felt politically motivated. “The government witnesses for the prosecution never focused their testimony on the actual charges against us, instead using their 15-minutes of ‘fame’ to complain about the United States.”
Wall Street Journal: The Old New Egypt. Cairo sentences 43 democratic activists to prison.
…Egypt’s spiral down continues. Robert Becker of the National Democratic Institute is the only American citizen who remained in Egypt to face the charges. He and four others were given a two-year sentence…
… The 2011 revolution was supposed to end the repressive climate under Mubarak. This week’s spectacle of men and women in the dock for trying to build a better country shows that the new Egypt is far too much like the old one.
Daily News Egypt: Convictions in NGO trial ‘a disgrace’
… German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he was “outraged about the harsh verdict against the NGO employees and the closure of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.” Westerwelle described the verdict as a “worrying decision that weakens the role of civil society as an important banner of democracy in the new democratic Egypt”…
… Robert Becker, the American defendant who remained in Egypt, said in a blog post on Monday: “If evidence matters in an Egyptian court, tomorrow’s verdict will be not guilty.” Becker added that the case was political from the start and he did not rule out a guilty verdict.
… However, Dalia Zeyad, researcher at the Ibn Khaldoun Center, said the convictions were not “built on sensible evidence.”
Instead, Hafez Abou Se’da, head of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights, said the verdict was intended to “destroy the role of NGOs in Egypt, especially since [they were a key mechanism] in the detection of human rights violations in the Mubarak-era”…
Washington Post: NGO workers convicted in Egypt.
… a handful faced the prospect of jail. Robert Becker, a former employee of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), was the only American defendant who stayed back in Egypt. Becker, who said he remained out of a sense of solidarity with the Egyptians who were charged, was given a two-year sentence.
On Monday, Becker wrote on his blog that he would defy his lawyer by staying in Egypt for the verdict. “I was told it would be best for me to go home, so that is exactly where I will be . . .home, in Cairo,” he wrote.
But late Tuesday evening, about 11 hours after the verdict was read, Becker announced on Twitter that he had “unwillingly and angrily gone into exile until appeals get sorted out.”
Becker, who has said the NDI fired him for his decision to remain in Egypt, has consistently maintained that he and his colleagues are innocent.
… The White House said in a statement that the United States is “deeply concerned” by the verdict in what it called a politically motivated trial…
Reuters: Egyptian court jails American, German in NGO case
… The jailed American is Robert Becker, a former NDI employee who opted to stay in Egypt and face trial instead of leaving. The German is a woman employee of Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Three others whose nationalities were not immediately clear were also given two years in jail…
Associated Press: Egypt court sentences 43 non-profit workers, including 16 Americans; US is outraged
… Heba Morayef, the Egypt director of Human Rights Watch, said she was baffled by the conviction. “Everyone knew it was a politicized trial and the judge could have had a way out if he suspended everyone’s sentence,” she said. “The trial, in some ways, reflects the paranoia that is in the president’s draft law for non-governmental organizations.”
Morsi has proposed a controversial bill regulating NGOs, soon to be debated by the interim, Islamist-dominated parliament. The bill would allow the state to control nonprofits’ activities as well as their domestic and international funding, Human Rights Watch said last week. “It is extremely repressive,” Morayef said.
Global Post: Egyptian court closes NGOs, convicts 43 staffers, including US citizens
… Becker explained his decision to the Christian Science Monitor in January. “How dare we preach human rights and democracy and run at the first time we’re facing paper felonies,” he said. “To me [my Egyptian colleagues] are the future of this country and they’re worth fighting for. They had nowhere to run. There was no way I could morally justify hopping on a plane”…
… Yehia Ghanem, a consultant for ICFJ and CEO of Dar Al-Hilal publishing, was sentenced to two years in prison, and a German national with KAS also received a two-year sentence. Other defendants tried in absentia included citizens of Norway, Serbia, Germany and Arab states, with 11 Egyptians receiving one-year suspended sentences…
ahramonline: Egypt NGO verdicts ‘politically motivated’, say critics
Lawyer says jail sentences imposed on NGO workers are aimed at pleasing public opinion; rights groups say they are intended to silence independent voices
Jail sentences passed against 43 NGO workers on Tuesday are principally aimed at “pleasing public opinion and endorsing anti-American and anti-Western sentiment,” a lawyer for some of the defendants has claimed.
Sarwat Abdel-Shahid, a lawyer for the National Democratic Institute (NDI)… said the verdict discriminated against foreigners because Egyptian defendants received one-year suspended sentences, while foreigners, who had joined the organisation on the same day as their Egyptian colleagues and had the same legal status, received two-year sentences…
“… [Becker’s] stance should have been appreciated by the Egyptian judiciary,” Abdel-Shahid said. “He refused to flee the country; he faced the situation and opted to defend himself.”
Abdel-Shahid was also angered by the sentences handed to the Egyptian NGO workers.
Regarding the accusation that the defendants worked for unregistered organisations, Abdel-Shahid said employees are not expected to ask their employers for evidence of their legal status.
The convictions will have a damaging affect on the future of “those young, aspiring people who had no criminal intentions,” he added.
CBS/AP: Egyptian court convicts nonprofit workers, including 16 Americans
… Robert Becker, the only American NGO employee who stayed behind in Egypt, was sentenced to two years in prison and a 1,000 Egyptianp pound fine (approximately $143)…
NPR: 16 Americans Among Nonprofit Workers Convicted In Egypt
… 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”… 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.
ThinkProgress: BREAKING: American Flees Egypt After Conviction In NGO Crackdown Case
@rbecker51 Safely out of #Egypt. On my lawyers advice, I have unwillingly and angrily gone into exile until appeals get sorted out. #NGOtrial
… Becker, who was among 43 non-profit democracy activists convicted of illegally using foreign funds to foment unrest in the country, received a two year jail term on Tuesday. The other Americans escaped the country earlier during the process after their employers paid $330,000 a piece in bail — with the money ultimately coming from the U.S. government.
Becker was terminated by his former employer, the National Democratic Institute, after choosing to remain in country to face charges in solidarity with his Egyptian colleagues…
The Daily Beast: Egypt Sentences American Workers to Jail Time
… Among the Americans to receive a five-year sentence and be fined 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($143) is Sam LaHood, son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Calls to his office in Washington, D.C., were not immediately returned.
Robert Becker, an organizer with the Tanzeem Group and the only American to stand before the court, was sentenced to two years in prison. “Maintaining my innocence on charges of starting NGO six years before I actually arrived in Egypt,” he wrote on Twitter following the verdict. Becker has refused to leave Egypt in solidarity with his Egyptian colleagues who could not leave…
The National Review: Egypt Sentences Americans to Jail for NGO Work, Most In Absentia
… The court convicted NGO workers of using these funds to promote protests, conduct illicit polling, monitor elections, and offer training in political activism, which, according to prosecutor Abdullah Yassin, amounted to an “infringement of the sovereignty of the state”…
The New York Times: Egypt Convicts Workers at Foreign Nonprofit Groups, Including 16 Americans
… Robert Becker, chose to stay in Egypt in solidarity with his Egyptian colleagues, but he left the country on Tuesday, according to his lawyer, Tharwat Abdel Shaheed.
“It was a verdict to please public opinion after the public was agitated for so long against the Americans and foreign NGOs,” Mr. Abdel Shaheed said.
Khaled Abo Bakr, an Egyptian lawyer and a commentator not involved in the case, said that the defendants who did not receive suspended sentences would have to report to prison before they could appeal. Those returning from abroad could be arrested upon arrival at the airport…
Daily News Egypt: All defendants in NGO foreign funding case found guilty
Financial Times: Egypt’s NGO ruling set to ignite tensions with donors
Terra: Egyptian court jails American, German in NGO case
South China Morning Post: Egypt hands down jail terms for democracy promotion groups
Newser: Egypt Slaps 16 Americans With Jail Terms
NPR: Court’s Ruling Could Prove Difficult for U.S.-Egyptian Relations
Mideast Times: Sixteen Americans Convicted by Egyptian Court
The Wall Street Journal: Egyptian Court Verdict Stokes U.S. Tensions
PressTV: Egyptian court convicts 16 Americans of fueling unrest
The Cleveland Plain Dealer: 16 Americans among 43 non-profit workers convicted in Egypt