Capping a multi-month diplomatic row with the United States, Egyptian state television announced today that Judge Mohammed Shukri has “renounced” the case against all NGO activists targeted for illegally accepting foreign funding, including 19 Americans, effectively ending the trials before they began.
Officially, the judge gave no reason for abandoning the trial, but it comes amid major pressure from the Obama Administration to do so, since many of those arrested worked for the US-government-funded National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI). The trial had already been delayed into late April.
US officials, including IRI board of directors chief Sen. John McCain (R – AZ), had been threatening to revoke billions of dollars in annual aid to Egypt’s military junta if the cases weren’t abandoned.
Though threats to revoke aid usually end with an immediate acquiescence, the Egyptian officials railed against the US for a few weeks before finally abandoning the case. Polls showed that most of Egypt’s population was against accepting US aid in the first place, but since Egypt’s junta, and not its population, is the one that actually gets that aid, it was apparently of a different mind.
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