Egypt court adjourns NGO foreign funding trial until May 23

Wednesday 20-04-2016 06:17 PM

A trial session on freezing the funds of rights activists on accusations of receiving foreign funding. ASWATMASRIYA/Mohamed al-Raai

CAIRO, Apr 20 (Aswat Masriya) - An Egyptian court adjourned on Wednesday a trial session in a high-profile case in which a number of non-governmental organisations are accused of receiving foreign funds illegally.

The trial was adjourned until May 23.

During today's court session, the court was set to look into a request by a judicial panel probing the case to uphold an asset freeze on several human rights defenders and their families in the light of an investigation into their relations to illegal foreign funding.

The case dates back to 2011 and has brought heavy criticism to Egypt since it started with Egyptian authorities raiding several NGOs and launching an investigation into foreign funding received by NGOs. It later on simply came to be known as the NGO trial, in which 43 Egyptians and foreigners were convicted in 2013.

Egypt reopened the investigation into the case last March, a move which was locally and internationally criticised.

The judicial probe barred four rights defenders and their families from disposing of their assets. The temporary decision includes Gamal Eid and Hossam Bahgat, two leading Egyptian rights defenders.

The former is the director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) while the latter is the founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

On Tuesday, the spokesman of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said in a statement that the secretary general is following closely judicial proceedings and highlighted the importance of civil society organisations and their role in "ensuring that states meet developmental, social and civic objectives and obligations."

Egypt, however, rejected the U.N. statement and said that it "is an unacceptable intrusion on the Egyptian judiciary".

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