The last time Red Notice Law Journal addressed the issue of NGO workers charged with crimes in Egypt, it was here, with the focus being on the fact that NGO workers and journalists are critical in the work of evaluating human rights issues and country conditions around the world. Egypt had charged employees of several NGOs for working in the country without their organizations being properly registered, although proper registration was not made possible by the Egyptian government.
Some of the workers who were charged were U.S. citizens. One of them is Robert Becker, who has remained in Egypt to face the charges and who regularly reports on the progress of the trial. The other U.S. citizens left the country. Because they had left Egypt, they were charged in absentia and Egypt requested Red Notices to be issued by INTERPOL. INTERPOL rightly refused to issue the Red Notices.
However, for Becker and for Defendants 27, Rawda Ali, and 28, Hafsa Halawa, and thirteen other Egyptians, INTERPOL did not become involved because they remained in Egypt. As reported here by Nancy Youssef and Amina Ismail, both women were employees of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), as was Becker. The NDI and other NGOs were working in Egypt with the goal of educating reporters on fair and impartial reporting methods, those NGOs were accused of operating without being properly registered as organizations within Egypt.
It is truly impossible to overstate the value of the work done by people like Ali, Becker and Halawa and their fellow defendants. But for people like them, the world has no real hope of obtaining reliable, verified, accurate information about any kind of activity, political or otherwise, in any foreign country. The ideal of unbiased journalism cannot be realized without journalists dedicated to unbiased research and reporting methods.
Every country has journalists for sale, those who will write what is easy, or unverified, or false. We know that. But we also know that there are journalists who are not afraid to find the truth, to understand the truth, and to tell the truth. They deserve our protection and they deserve that we bear witness to their dedication.
These journalists and their colleagues are braver than most of us, and we are indebted to them. INTERPOL was right not to become involved in this matter. The political motivation behind the charges is palpable, and it is important for these defendants to know that they are not forgotten, and that the world is, in fact, watching.