New York Times: Egypt Rejects Carter Center Registration

Egypt Rejects Registration Bids From 8 U.S. Nonprofit Groups
The New York Times
By David D. Kirkpatrick

CAIRO — An Egyptian ministry has rejected the applications for registration of eight American nonprofit groups, state media reported, in the government’s first action on the status of foreign-backed nonprofit groups since its criminal prosecution of three American-backed organizations set off a crisis in relations with Washington this year.

The state media reported that the Insurance and Social Affairs Ministry had rejected the applications of the groups on the grounds that their activities violated Egyptian sovereignty.

Most notable among them was the Carter Center, which has sent monitors to observe the Egyptian presidential election. Its founder, former President Jimmy Carter, is something close to a national hero in Egypt for his role brokering the 1979 Camp David peace accords.

Sanne van der Bergh, director of the center’s operations in Egypt, said that the group was awaiting an official response to its application and that it still hoped to receive an invitation from the presidential election commission to monitor the elections starting next month.

Other groups denied registration included Seeds of Peace, which brings young Egyptians, Jordanians, Israelis and Palestinians together at a camp in Maine; a group for Coptic Christian orphans; and a Mormon missionary group.

There was no indication of any immediate legal action against the groups or their employees in Egypt. In February, the Egyptian authorities brought criminal charges against the employees of three American-backed groups accused of illegally receiving foreign money and operating without registration. The groups — the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and Freedom House — were federally financed and chartered to promote democracy. Among those charged was Sam LaHood, an official of the Republican Institute and the son of the American transportation secretary, Ray LaHood.

Last month, the United States flew Mr. LaHood and six other Americans out of Egypt in a deal to remove them from prosecution. But the trial is continuing, and about a dozen of the groups’ Egyptian employees still face criminal charges and possible jail time. So does one American, Robert Becker, who chose to stay.

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