A Cairo court has sentenced several dozen NGO employees to jail. The ruling follows several hearings since 2011. The Egyptian government originally brought charges against them for interfering in the country's affairs.
The 43 defendants on trial in the Egyptian capital received prison sentences on Tuesday. The court handed down terms ranging from one to five years.
At least 27 were sentenced in absentia.
Eleven defendants were given suspended sentences ranging from one to five years. The court handed down a two-year prison term to an American citizen present during the trial.
In its verdict, the court ordered the closure of the non-governmental organizations, which include the US-based Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute and Germany's Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS).
KAS chariman Hans-Gert Pöttering told DW that as well holding "deep regret" for the judgement, "we condemn it very strongly."
"We thought that finally the legal order in Egypt would have a chance," Pöttering said. "But we now have to realize that Egypt is not a legal state and this is very regrettable." In German, a commonly-used term "Rechtsstaat" with the direct translation "legal state" refers to a country governed by the rule of law; it does not pertain to a question of international legitimacy or statehood.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the German government was "outraged and highly disturbed" by the verdict on Tuesday, adding that it would support the defendants in their efforts to have the court's decision reversed.
Initial proceedings began during the Arab Spring. In 2011, Egyptian prosecutors accused US-based NGOs of meddling in the country's affairs, gradually casting a wider net over both foreign and Egyptian organizations.
kms, msh/rc (AFP, Reuters, dpa)
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