June 7, 2013
While employees of American NGOs sat in Egyptian prisons, Secretary of State John Kerry quietly waived the law that would prevent the U.S. from sending the Egyptian military $1.3 billion worth of weapons this year.
Congress erupted in anger June 4, when Egyptian courts sentenced 43 NGO workers, including 16 Americans, to jail terms of up to five years for working in NGOs not registered with the government. Only one of those Americans, the National Democratic Institute’s Robert Becker, actually stayed in Egypt to await the verdict. He was given two years in prison. The other American organizations targeted included the International Republican Institute and Freedom House. All of those organizations had been operating in the open in Egypt for several years before the government raided their offices and forced them to flee the country in December 2011.
But what most in Congress didn’t know was that on May 10, Kerry had waived the restrictions lawmakers had put in place to make sure that U.S. military aid to Egypt wouldn’t continue unless Egypt made progress on its path to democracy, rule of law, and human rights. The State Department’s notification of Kerry’s move, which was never released to the public, was obtained by The Daily Beast.