Testifying at a House hearing on Egypt’s decision to convict 43 individuals who worked for five nongovernmental organizations, NDI President Kenneth Wollack said “they should be praised, not prosecuted for the work they did to support Egyptian democracy.”
Egypt's actions, Wollack said June 12 at a hearing of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, "were driven by politics and an unshakeable opposition to democratic development."
A central issue was a longstanding conflict over who controls U.S. assistance to Cairo. "Those wrongfully convicted were ultimately the victims of an intergovernmental dispute between the U.S. and the then-Egyptian government," he said.
On Dec. 29, 2011, Egyptian authorities raided NDI offices in Cairo, Alexandria and Assiut as well as those of Egyptian and other international organizations. Subsequently, 43 NGO employees were put on trial, which lasted 16 months. On June 4, all were found guilty, and sentenced to one to five years in prison.
"This should be a time for active civic engagement, exuberant discourse, energetic political activity and a participatory debate on the country's evolving political process," said Wollack. "Last week's verdict and the proposed NGO law could create the opposite effect."
- Statement by NDI on verdict in Egypt»
- "Egypt at a Crossroads" - Wollack's testimony before the House Committe on Foreign Affairs in February 2012»
- Facts on NDI's presence and programs in Egypt»
- Women leaders in Egypt learn from global transition experiences»
- Leaders in Chile's democratic transition travel to Cairo»
Published June 12, 2013