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en/egypt-the-role-of-banks-in-freezing-the-assets-of-human-rights-defenders#c141064

Egypt: Court to determine asset freeze of human rights defenders Hossam Bahgat and Gamal Eid on September 17

Author: Mada Masr, Published on: 15 August 2016

Court adjourns case to determine Hossam Bahgat, Gamal Eid asset freeze to September 17

Cairo Criminal Court postponed a hearing to review the asset freeze of human rights defenders Hossam Bahgat, Gamal Eid and four others to September 17. The defendants are part of a 2011 case accusing a number of NGOs of illegally receiving foreign funding. The case was reopened in March when the state-owned Middle East News Agency reported that Cairo Criminal Court was due to review a ruling to freeze the assets of four defendants, including Bahgat and Eid.

During the May hearing, an investigative judge recommended that the assets of four additional people be frozen: Bahey Eddin Hassan — founder of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, as well as another employee at the center; Mostafa Hassan — administrative assistant at the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, and Abdel Hafez Tayel — head of the Egyptian Center for Right to Education…

Lawyers […] argued that receiving transfers from abroad, as testimonies from a National Security Agency officer and a Societe Generale Bank employee indicated, is not a crime in itself… They added that an asset freeze is a penalty in itself, which contradicts the presumption that the defendants are innocent until proven guilty, and infringes on private property rights….

The foreign funding case dates back to 2011 when 43 workers from foreign NGOs were charged with operating an organization and receiving funds without a license. In 2013, all the defendants, including 17 US citizens, received sentences ranging from one to five years in prison. Many of the defendants received the charges in absentia.

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