German embassy refutes allegations against NGO

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CAIRO: The German embassy in Cairo denied in a press release Monday allegations against the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) organization.

Two members of the NGO’s Cairo office were referred to the Cairo Criminal Court on charges of receiving illegal funds, along with over 40 others working with US NGOs.

The trial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 26.

The embassy denied allegations that KAS received illegal banking transactions, stressing that the organization’s budget for 2011 was €620,000 and that no cash was confiscated when their headquarters were raided by security forces in December.

"KAS funding is exclusively allocated by the German government to bank accounts in Egyptian banks that are audited by the Egyptian banking system," the statement said.

"KAS does not accept any money allocations or donations from any other sources and does not work with organizations in a third country. The organization and its workers never brought in money illegally to Egypt at any point in time."

A total of 44 workers from five foreign NGOs, including 19 Americans will be tried for violating Egyptian law by receiving illegal foreign funding and working without a proper permits.

The US defendants include Sam LaHood, the son of US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Also facing charges are 14 Egyptians, five Serbs, two Germans, two Lebanese, one Jordanian and one Palestinian, all of whom have either been banned from travel or have been placed on inbound watch-lists if they are outside the country.

In press conference early February, the judge investigating the case Sameh Abou Zeid said that the probe revealed that “five foreign NGOs received secret cash transactions from abroad under the names of workers in these NGOs not through the official bank accounts [of the NGOs]. Transactions were in the millions of pounds."

"These NGO employees deliberately had tourist visas, not work visas, and did not pay taxes," Abou Zeid continued. He said 67 items were confiscated during the raid, including documents that “prove foreign funding.”

The case file also includes “reports by state experts” evaluating the confiscated items.

"One piece of evidence we found was a map showing Egypt divided into four parts: Upper Egypt, the Delta, Greater Cairo and the Canal provinces," Abou Zeid said.

While he didn’t explain the significance of such maps, the accusation reflects claims made by some TV personnel and officials that there is a foreign plot to divide Egypt.

Abou Zeid said the five NGOs are not involved in civil services, but their work extends to politics, which took a different direction after the Jan. 25 uprising.

"Many eyewitnesses who used to work for these NGOs testified that they quit once they doubted the nature of the work of these foreign organizations," Abou Zeid claimed.

"They told us surveys were conducted across the country by these NGOs asking Egyptians about their religious beliefs and their dress codes," he added.

Egyptians have to state their religious affiliation on ID cards.

"The results of these surveys are never published in Egypt, but are secretly reported to their mother organizations in the US," the judge said.

“Homeland Security and National Security” refused to give licenses to these organizations before the revolution but they continued to operate illegally, he added.

The German embassy denied these allegations, asserting that KAS workers hold legal work permits and that the organization regularly pays taxes and insurance in line with Egyptian laws.

"KAS exclusively supports projects, not organizations, members or political parties," the statement said, adding that the aims and the content of these projects are tailored according to program outlines by their Egyptian partners, with no interference from the organization’s side.

"There was no cooperation or connection between KAS in Egypt and other organizations in Israel, or the organization’s office in Israel at any point in time," said the statement.

The embassy denied conducting secret reports or activities, stressing that all activities undertaken by KAS are published either in its Arabic magazine or on the organization’s official website.

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