The Supreme Judicial Council decided on Tuesday to look into the NGO foreign funding case and the judicial developments that have taken place, including the decision to lift a travel ban on the foreign defendants.
Council Secretary General Mohamed Eid Salem called upon citizens and the media to refrain from investigating this matter in order to safeguard the independence and prestige of the judiciary at home and abroad, and threatened to take legal action against anyone tarnishing the judiciary.
Some American defendants in the case flew out of Cairo airport on Thursday after posting bail, sparking outrage in Egypt. The NGO workers are accused of operating in Egypt without licenses and illegally receiving foreign funding.
News reports suggested that the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces pressured judicial authorities to lift the travel ban on the defendants to avoid escalation with Washington over the issue.
“Nobody can impose anything on the judiciary,” said SCAF member General Taher Abdallah on Monday. “Also, there are political considerations between Egypt and the United States that should be accounted for.”
On Tuesday, two cabinet ministers spoke to the Shura Council, the upper house of Egypt’s Parliament.
Civil Aviation Minister Hussein Massoud told the Shura Council on Tuesday that the plane that flew the American defendants out of Egypt belongs to the US State Department, adding that such type of aircraft is granted diplomatic ratification from certain competent authorities, and that it landed and took off after obtaining all necessary approvals.
He also said that the Interior Ministry requires passengers to carry a valid and stamped passport and an exit visa in order to leave, and that there are other bodies, such as the National Security Service and the Military Intelligence, which have the right to prohibit a plane from departure.
“After the revolution, no private plane can take off without the approval of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces,” he said.
The Shura Council called for dismissing Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Abouelnaga on charges of treason for her role in the case, and for referring Abdel Moez Ibrahim, head of the Court of Appeal, to an investigative committee for pressuring the judges to step down from the case.
The travel ban on suspects in the case was lifted last week and the US State Department on Friday said 13 foreign workers, six of them US citizens, had left Egypt on a private plane. The amount of bail paid for the US citizens was set at about US$330,000 each.