Pro-democracy groups have worked openly in Egypt for years, although the government has long refused to grant them operating licenses. The groups were buoyed last year when the government allowed them to monitor parliamentary election, the first time foreign monitors were allowed to observe polls in the country.
Hopes that Mubarak’s fall a year ago would be a boon for pro-democracy activists were dashed on Dec. 29 when Egyptian authorities raided the offices of 10 NGOs and seized files and computers. The current investigation, led by two investigative judges who were state prosecutors, is predicated on a 2002 law that bars organizations from accepting foreign funding if they are not licensed by the state.
Obviously the Egyptian Government could have expelled American and other foreign NGO democracy workers at any time, or not let the organizations operate to start with. Prosecuting people now for doing what they were definitionally in the country to do and have been doing openly–using funding from the U.S., Germany, and or other democratic governments–is blatantly unfair to the individuals targeted as well as to the organizations.
This is not a criminal matter–Egypt has real crimes to address and these prosecutions are obviously a sideshow for ulterior motives.