Egypt Independent

Justice Ministry: Over 300 civil society groups received foreign funds

More than 300 civil society organizations have received foreign funding over the past six years, a probe by two judges has revealed.

The investigators stressed that foreign financing is not considered a violation as long as the funds are obtained legitimately through officially sanctioned channels.   

The judges released a statement on Monday where they blasted media outlets for leveling accusations at specific political groups and individuals, as well as reporting that certain suspects have been convicted. Such reports were entirely baseless, the statement said. The statement noted that investigations have not been concluded.

"The fact-finding panel did not limit investigations to US funding, but foreign financing in general," the statement added.

The judges have listened to the testimony of more than 50 witnesses, the statement said. It revealed that some of the suspected entities do not have official permission to operate.

According to the statement, the probe covered all Egyptian NGOs, including Islamic and Coptic associations, in addition to individuals who obtained funding from Arab and Western states.

The investigations, the statement said, seek to verify the legality of the funding, and whether the funds are delivered through legitimate channels and spent on the purposes declared.

The judges stressed that foreign financing of NGOs is not incriminating except when funds are received from illegitimate entities, given through illegal means, or provided for illicit purposes.

In accordance with the criminal code and the law on NGOs, violators are to be referred to criminal courts.

The statement revealed that more than 35,000 civil society organizations have licenses to operate, while those which have received foreign funding do not exceed 400.

According to the statement, citizens have a responsibility to report any violations that are supported by evidence. It stressed that judges appointed by the Justice Ministry are exclusively tasked with carrying out the probe, and are not responsible for allegations circulated through the media.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm