The Cairo Criminal Court has adjourned the court session to review whether to freeze the assets of human rights workers Hossam Bahgat and Gamal Eid for a the third time.
The next court hearing has been scheduled for July 17.
Bahgat and Eid are party to a 2011 case accusing a number of NGOs of receiving foreign funding without a license. The case was reopened in March when the state-owned Middle East News Agency reported that the Cairo Criminal Court had scheduled a session to review a ruling to freeze the assets of four defendants, including Bahgat and Eid.
During Monday’s hearing, the prosecution submitted two memoranda, one relating to Bahgat and Eid and another relating to the four defendants who were added to the case in the May 23 court session.
The defense lawyers asked for the hearing to be adjourned to allow time for the documents to be reviewed.
The court has only allowed lawyers to review case documents upon request and within the judiciary’s premises. After noting transcription errors in notes taken from the documents, defense lawyers Khaled Ali and Negad al-Borai petitioned the court to allow lawyers to photocopy the original documents. However, the court has yet to issue a decision concerning the request.
Eid told Mada Masr that after reviewing the case documents it is clear that the case has been built on fabricated and false information, stating that the investigative judge relied on information provided by the National Security Agency without interrogating those who conducted the investigation.
The hearing has been adjourned twice since being reopened, once to April 20 and again to May 23. At the hearing in May, an investigative judge recommended that the assets of four additional people be frozen: Bahey Eddin Hassan — founder of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, as well as another employee at the center; Mostafa al-Hassan — manager of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center; and Abdel Hafez Tayel — head of the Egyptian Center for Right to Education.
The case originated in December 2011 when 43 workers from foreign NGOs were charged with operating an organization and receiving funds from a foreign government without a license. In June 2013, all the defendants — including 17 US nationals, in addition to other foreign nationals and Egyptians — received sentences of one to five years in prison, many of them in absentia. The court also ordered the closure of the NGOs implicated in the case, including the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House. However, court proceedings related to Egyptian NGOs that had been accused of the same charges were left unresolved.
Bahgat is the founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, and Eid is the executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information. In February, both Bahgat and Eid were informed that they had been banned from international travel when they attempted to board flights at Cairo International Airport. The men were not notified whether they had been charged with a criminal offense at the time.