The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) denied illegally funding Egyptian human rights lawyer Gamal Eid, director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), amid the slew of accusations he faces in the case publicly known as the ‘NGOs foreign funding’ case.
“Among the accusations prosecutors have leveled against the veteran free-expression advocate is the false claim that CPJ paid him to defame Egypt internationally,” the organisation said in a statement Friday.
Eid is among other civil society workers under prosecution for accusations of receiving funds illegitimately from foreign organisations, as authorities decided to re-open the infamous case from 2011 which had led to the departure and closure of several foreign NGOs in Egypt.
The prosecution accused Eid of receiving $50,000 in international funding to spread ideas of democracy and human rights on the internet. According to an interview with Daily News Egypt in April, a state crackdown campaign was targeting 12 organisations, mostly comprised of NGOs working in advocacy, women’s rights, and development.
The case also includes prominent rights defender Hossam Bahgat who along with Eid will appear before the Cairo Criminal Court on 15 August, awaiting a postponed decision on the freeze of their assets. Both have also been banned from international travel.
CPJ expressed concern over the legal threats Eid faces, citing Article 78 of the Penal Code, which set the maximum penalty as life in prison for receiving money from abroad “with intent to pursue acts harmful to national interests, or destabilise the general peace or the country’s independence and unity”.
“This trial is a transparent attempt to silence Egyptian civil society and critical journalists,” CPJ’s Executive Director Joel Simon said. “The allegations that [we] provided financial support to Gamal Eid or his organisation are false and utterly without merit. Given the defendants’ fearless and committed defense of the most vulnerable in Egypt and the region, we find this entire legal process to be outrageous and deeply chilling,” he added.