Conflict & Justice

For Egypt, little to celebrate after foreign NGO workers are freed


US Defense Secretary Robert Gates (center) is greeted by Egyptian Maj. Gen. Hassan al-Roueini (2nd from left), military commander for the Cairo area upon his arrival in Cairo last spring. Fifteen foreign NGO workers apparently left Egypt in a US military plane from Cairo airport.



CAIRO, Egypt – It's official. Fifteen foreign NGO workers, including eight Americans, charged with receiving illegal funds, have left Egypt after a travel ban on the group was lifted. 

The foreign pro-democracy activists flew out of Cairo International Airport Thursday evening local time, in a move that will likely temper tensions between Egypt's military government and the United States, which had threatened to cut aid if the charges were not dropped.

But another 28 Egyptians, who worked for the same organizations and were not allowed to leave, still face trial here. Though there is speculation the case will be referred to a misdemeanor court, the defendants have been painted by state-run media as foreign-paid thugs interested only in destroying Egypt.

The International Republican Institute (IRI), which was under indictment in Egypt, said in a statement that it was "concerned about the situation and our Egyptian employees."

Therefore, there was little to celebrate when news broke the foreign workers had made their escape. With the US out of the picture, what comes next for Egyptian civil society? 


[View the story "Foreign NGO workers leave Egypt " on Storify]