Nazra for Feminist Studies received an official summons for investigation in the re-opened 2011 case against a number of NGOs, the organization announced in a statement on Sunday.
The case was originally filed in 2011, accusing a number of NGOs of operating and receiving foreign funding without a license. Forty-three staff in foreign NGOs — including 17 US citizens, other foreigners and Egyptians — were sentenced to prison in June 2013, many in absentia.
Staff from local NGOs implicated in the investigation weren’t sentenced in 2013, and it wasn’t clear at the time if they might be brought to trial at a later date.
Three staff members from Nazra for Feminist Studies received an official summons on Sunday, March 13 and Tuesday, March 15, to be questioned on Wednesday, March 16. This was later postponed to Tuesday, March 22. The notifications did not detail the reasons why the staff members were summoned, nor the relationship of the summons to Nazra.
Nazra sees their inclusion in the 2011 case within the context of a broader government crackdown on independent civil society organizations, citing a number of methods the state has used to restrict the activities of such groups, including: interrogations, travel bans and inspection visits, according to their statement.
“We are really worried because this is a case where people are not only trying to jail us, but to stigmatize us and our work locally,” the head of Nazra, Mozn Hassan, told Mada Masr, adding that they are the only organization specifically working on women’s issues in the case.
Hassan speculates that they may have been targeted as a result of Nazra’s perception of feminism as a political matter, and the organization’s work with groups in the public sphere, particularly in various governorates.
Hassan told Mada Masr she doesn’t understand why she, as the executive director of the organization, wasn’t also summoned.
“I hope the three Nazra women will be safe. I think after that they will summon me, and maybe arrest me,” she said.
The re-opened case also includes a number of well-known human rights activists and journalists, including the executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Gamal Eid and the founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights Hossam Bahgat. Both found out about their inclusion in the case and the freezing of their assets from the state-owned Middle East News Agency.
Cairo Criminal Court was scheduled to review the ruling to freeze the assets of four defendants in the case, including Bahgat and Eid, on Saturday, but the session was delayed until March 24.
The defendants’ assets were frozen pending investigations into charges that they illegally received US$1.5 million in foreign funding for their respective NGOs.