Egypt convicts 43, including Americans, in NGO case

CAIRO | An Egyptian court convicted 43 Americans, Europeans, Egyptians and other Arabs on Tuesday in a case against democracy promotion groups that plunged U.S.-Egyptian ties into their worst crisis in decades.

Judge Makram Awad gave five-year sentences to 27 defendants tried in absentia including 15 U.S. citizens. Another American who stayed for trial was given a two-year sentence but left Egypt on Tuesday on the advice of his lawyers. A German woman was also given a two-year sentence.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry harshly criticized the decision, calling it “incompatible with the transition to democracy” and a violation of the government’s commitment to support civil society as it emerges from years of authoritarian rule by close U.S. ally former President Hosni Mubarak.

The Egyptian investigation focused on charges that the groups were operating without necessary approvals and had received funds from abroad illegally. Eleven Egyptians who faced lesser charges were handed one-year suspended sentences.

Beginning in late 2011, Egypt’s crackdown on organizations which included U.S.-based groups linked to America’s two main political parties caused outrage in Washington, which supplies Cairo with $1.3 billion in military aid each year.

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