Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian prosecutors will put 43 NGO workers, including 19 Americans, on trial, escalating a wide-ranging investigation into pro-democracy and human rights groups, reports the Associated Press. Washington has warned Egypt that its continued crackdown on groups promoting democracy would jeopardize the $1.5 billion in aid it is set to receive this year. Egyptian officials have insisted they can’t interfere with the judiciary.
Among the 19 Americans that will apparently face trial is Sam LaHood, the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The 43 NGO workers have been barred from leaving the country. The Wall Street Journal says American NGO workers in Cairo aren’t sure whether the criminal charges means they will now be arrested. At least three U.S. citizens fearing that fate have sought shelter at the U.S. Embassy.
The New York Times explains that prosecutors are relying on restrictive laws left over from President Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian government “that have in effect kept virtually every independent civil organization here in a kind of legal twilight, its workers subject to arrest at any time.”