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Egypt Turns Down Licences for U.S. NGOs

Egypt Turns Down Licences for U.S. NGOs

Egypt has turned down a request from eight U.S.-based civil society groups for licences to operate in the country, after a crackdown on their activities sparked the first diplomatic spat with Washington since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak.

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April 24, 2012 9:05 by



Egypt has turned down a request from eight U.S.-based civil society groups for licences to operate in the country, after a crackdown on their activities sparked the first diplomatic spat with Washington since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak.

The case led to threats from Washington to withdraw $1.3 billion of military aid until an Egyptian judge lifted a travel ban on several American democracy activists last month, allowing them to leave the country and avoid possible imprisonment.

Requests for licences were rejected for the Carter Center for Human Rights, set up by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Christian group The Coptic Orphans, Seeds of Peace and others, Egyptian state news agency MENA reported on Monday.

MENA said the Insurance and Social Affairs Ministry rejected the applications because their activities violated state sovereignty. It was not immediately clear if any of the groups were targeted in the previous crackdown.

“I don’t understand how a charity group like the Coptic Orphans, which works with over 35 churches in Egypt to provide medical and social aid, was rejected,” said the group’s lawyer Negad al-Borai.

Foreign-funded democracy and human rights groups were allowed to operate in Egypt under Mubarak but were kept in legal limbo by the government, which repeatedly turned down their applications for licences. Some NGO workers saw it as a deliberate policy to keep them on a tight leash.

Signalling a tougher line after Mubarak was ousted, Egyptian police raided offices of U.S. pro-democracy groups in late December. Prosecutors later charged 43 people including 16 Americans – one of them the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood – with working for organisations that received illegal foreign funding.

(Additional reporting by Ashraf Fahim and Ali Abdelatti, Writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer and Alison Williams)



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