Egypt vows to press NGO case despite U.S. threats

McClatchy reports: Egypt’s government won’t back off its criminal investigation of American and other civil society workers even if the U.S. withdraws its financial aid, Egypt’s military-appointed prime minister said Wednesday, in a case that could spell the end of one of the United States’ closest Arab alliances.

Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri’s remarks were his first public comment on the brewing diplomatic crisis over Egypt’s prosecution of 43 nongovernmental organization workers focused on democracy-building. At least 16 Americans, including the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, are among those facing charges of illegally receiving foreign funds.

Outraged U.S. lawmakers have vowed to cut Egypt’s annual $1.3 billion military aid package, a move that effectively would end the cozy relationship that the United States and Egypt enjoyed during the 30 years of now-deposed President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. Egyptian officials have said they’re eager to remake the country’s foreign policy, with an emphasis on sovereignty and a respect for popular opinion, though critics say the ruling generals are playing a dangerous game of brinkmanship.

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