As the conflict over U.S. government-funded interference in Egyptian politics appeared to be easing slightly — travel bans on American “pro-democracy” activists charged with various crimes were just lifted — analysts and officials suggested U.S. taxpayer aid to the dubious regime in Cairo would likely continue to flow.
The Obama administration and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had previously threatened to withhold about $1.3 billion in military assistance and some $250 million in economic aid if the prosecutions were not dropped. And tensions in bilateral relations between the U.S. government and the Egyptian regime — a military junta combined with a radical Islamist Parliament — sank to new lows as the dispute over the trials escalated.
But on Wednesday, following months of heated negotiations, authorities in Egypt decided to let the suspects leave the country after paying bail. Still, none of the charges has been dropped. And the “activists” on trial were released on the condition that they would still appear in court. If convicted, they could face five years in prison and large fines.
The defendants include more than a dozen Americans, some Europeans, and Middle Easterners. Most of them worked for U.S. government-financed “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) accused of what amounts to subversion, instigating turmoil at the behest of foreign governments, and several other crimes.
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Photo of Egyptian flag: AP Images