Egyptian-American charged in NGO funding case arrested on return to Cairo

An Egyptian-American activist who was among the 43 NGO workers charged with receiving illegal foreign funding was detained upon arrival at Cairo International Airport.

Sherif Mansour, 32, a former senior program officer for Freedom House’s Middle East and North Africa programs, was on the airport’s watch list for his implication in the case, state-run news agency MENA reported.

Mansour said on his Twitter account Sunday that he would spend the night at the airport and be transferred to the public prosecutor in the morning.

Sherif is the son of Ahmed Sobhy Mansour, a professor at Al-Azhar who sparked controversy a few years ago for denying the authenticity of prophetic tradition. He currently lives in the US with his family.

Mansour had said last week he would travel to Egypt to face the charges and join the others who are standing trial in the same case, despite a previous ruling that allowed the foreign defendants to leave Egypt.

Mansour resigned from his post at Freedom House to stand trial. On 1 June, he wrote on Twitter, “Today is my last day with Freedom House. Tomorrow I fly back to Cairo.”

The 43 defendants had been arrested at the beginning of the year in the case, which sparked tension between Egypt and the US until the Americans and other foreign citizens in the case were released on bail and allowed to leave the country.

“The Egyptian authorities are using a discredited Mubarak-era law to prosecute nongovernmental groups while proposing even more restrictive legislation,” Human Rights Watch had previously said in a statement that described the issue. “The government should stop using the old law, halt the criminal investigations and propose a law that respects international standards.”

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