US still wants Egypt NGO case dismissed

WASHINGTON- The United States said Friday it was still asking Egypt to drop charges against US and other democracy activists, who were able to fly out of the country after the judiciary lifted a travel ban.
The State Department said that 13 people -- six Americans and seven other foreigners -- left Thursday on a US-sent plane, after discrepancies in reports on the total number. One charged American decided to stay in Egypt.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the United States provided funds for the departing Americans to post bail, which an Egyptian judge said was set at two million pounds ($330,000) for each person.
Asked if US taxpayers would see the money back now that the defendants have left Egypt, Nuland told reporters that the United States wanted a complete end to the case.
"We will continue to work with the Egyptian government to see if we can get this case dismissed, not only for our people but also for the Egyptians, because we think this case was unwarranted from the beginning," she said.
"These groups ended up in this situation because they were trying to do democracy promotion work, which they do in 70 countries all over the world," she said.
Egyptian authorities in December raided offices of a number of Egyptian and foreign organizations including the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, which are loosely affiliated with the two main US political parties.
The raids came as Egypt's military leadership faced growing pressure to cede control to civilians, in the spirit of the 2011 mass uprising that overthrew authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.
US legislators had warned that Egypt would imperil its more than $1.3 billion in US annual aid if it pressed ahead with the trial. The US defendants, who had taken refuge in the US embassy, included Sam LaHood, son of US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Saturday, March 3rd 2012

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