Court postpones hearing to review Hossam Bahgat, Gamal Eid asset freeze to August 15

Cairo Criminal Court postponed the hearing to review the asset freeze of human rights defenders Hossam Baghat, Gamal Eid and four others to August 15. The case has previously been adjourned three times, once to April 20 and again on May 23 and July 17.

Bahgat and Eid are defendants in a 2011 case accusing a number of NGOs of illegally receiving foreign funding. 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 the May hearing, 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 foreign funding case dates back to 2011 when 43 workers from foreign NGOs were charged with operating an organization and receiving funds without a license. In 2013, all defendants, including 17 US citizens, received sentences ranging from one to five years in prison. Many of the defendants received the charges in absentia.

The case also resulted in the closure of several NGOs, including the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House. However, legal proceedings against Egyptian NGOs implicated in the case were unresolved.

Baghat is the founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and Eid is the director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). Both Gamal and Eid were banned from travel in February as they attempted to board international flights, but were not informed whether they faced criminal charges at the time.

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