NGO workers acquitted foreign funding retrial of 2011 Arab uprising

By Agence France-Presse

A court on Thursday acquitted 43 NGO staff accused of receiving illicit foreign funds to stir up unrest during Egypt’s 2011 uprising, a judge said.

The verdict follows prolonged legal proceedings in the case. In April, Egypt’s top appeals court ordered a retrial following appeals filed by 16 defendants.

“The defendants have been cleared of all charges,” judge Mohamed al-Feki said.

The defendants including Americans, Europeans, Egyptians and other Arabs were handed down prison terms of between one and five years in 2013.

Many of the defendants were tried in absentia and the accused were sentenced but not jailed.

Since 2011, authorities have regularly accused civil society organisations of seeking to destabilise the country.

Egypt stepped up its crackdown on non-governmental organisations after the military ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Morsi’s overthrow was led by general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who took office in 2014.

Rights groups have accused Sisi’s government of human rights violations and over the repression of dissidents.

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