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Letter to President Mohamed Morsi - Wolf, Connolly Urge Egyptian President To Free NGOs, Permit Them To Keep Working

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) today sent a letter to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi expressing severe disappointment in the recent sentencing of 43 NGO workers, including 17 Americans, to jail. The letter pressed Morsi to immediately dismiss the charges and permit the NGOs to continue their important democracy promotion work unfettered.

The bipartisan letter was cosigned by 54 members of Congress.

Last week, Wolf spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives condemning the Egyptian court's sentence and calling for cutting off all U.S. aid to the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Cairo should the court decision stand. He also urged Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama to raise the issue with Morsi and correct what he called a "travesty of justice."

"The United States supports the aspirations of the Egyptian people to become a free and fair society, in which all NGOs -- regardless of their nation of origin -- are allowed to operate freely, and we cannot in good conscience ignore the results of the June 4 trial," Wolf and Connolly wrote. "This verdict comes on the heels of a draft NGO law that further restricts NGOs, fails to meet Egypt's international commitments in terms of freedom of association, and lends credence to the opinion that there is an ongoing war against civil society in Egypt."

In addition to dismissing all charges, the lawmakers urged Morsi to return all confiscated property to the NGOs.

"In order for the U.S. government and the American people to have any confidence that the Egyptian government is undertaking a genuine transition to a democratic state, under civilian control, where the freedoms of assembly, association, religion and expression are guaranteed and rule of law is upheld, we must see a swift and satisfactory resolution to this case that takes into full account the concerns expressed in this letter, including revisions to the proposed NGO law," they wrote.

The letter concluded by calling into question the millions of dollars in U.S. foreign assistance that Egypt presently receives, ostensibly with no strings attached: "A certification that the government of Egypt is implementing policies to guarantee these pillars of a free society, as required by law, seems impossible under the present circumstances."

Wolf has long supported efforts to help Egypt's smooth transition to democracy. He travelled to Egypt most recently in February.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear President Morsi,

We write to express severe disappointment in the June 4th guilty verdict rendered by an Egyptian court against 43 non-governmental organizations' (NGO) workers--a diverse group that included 17 Americans. The verdict calls into serious question Egypt's progress toward an open society and raises key concerns about Egypt's commitment to democratic principles in a post-revolutionary context.

In the aftermath of the December 2011 raids against NGO offices in Egypt, friends of Egypt in the United States urged caution and patience, expressing optimism that Egyptian authorities would properly handle the matter. However, since seizing records, electronic equipment, and hard currency from the NGO offices, Egyptian authorities reneged on their word that the situation would be appropriately resolved. Despite mixed signals followed by a decision to prosecute, U.S. officials patiently waited for a fair conclusion. We do not consider the June 4th guilty verdict a fair conclusion.

We urge an immediate dismissal of charges against all 43 NGO workers. The United States supports the aspirations of the Egyptian people to become a free and fair society, in which all NGOs--regardless of their nation of origin-- are allowed to operate freely, and we cannot in good conscience ignore the results of the June 4th trial. This verdict comes on the heels of a draft NGO law that further restricts NGOs, fails to meet Egypt's international commitments in terms of freedom of association, and lends credence to the opinion that there is an ongoing war against civil society in Egypt.

We urge you to immediately reconsider this matter and return confiscated property to the NGOs, dismiss charges against all NGO workers, and permit them to continue their work supporting a free, fair and open and democratic society. In order for the U.S. government and the American people to have any confidence that the Egyptian government is undertaking a genuine transition to a democratic state, under civilian control, where the freedoms of assembly, association, religion and expression are guaranteed and rule of law is upheld, we must see a swift and satisfactory resolution to this case that takes into full account the concerns expressed in this letter, including revisions to the proposed NGO law. A certification that the government of Egypt is implementing policies to guarantee these pillars of a free society, as required by law, seems impossible under the present circumstances.

Sincerely,

Frank R. Wolf Gerald E. Connolly
Member of Congress Member of Congress


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