Hoeven: Cairo Meetings, Egyptian Statements Encouraging for NGO Situation

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today said recent statements by Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) regarding nongovernmental organization (NGO) operations in the nation are encouraging for American NGO workers, including North Dakota native Staci Haag, currently being detained and subject to trial in Egyptian courts. Hoeven and a bipartisan delegation of senators, including Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) were in Egypt Monday meeting with government and military leaders to discuss national security and foreign relations issues. 

“The Freedom and Justice Party’s statements are encouraging for NGOs and for those Americans being detained in Egypt,” said Hoeven. “Our meetings—both with the American NGO workers and the Egyptian leaders—were productive. We are cautiously optimistic that the current situation will be resolved and that these citizens will be allowed to return to the United States.” 

The FJP—the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the largest party in the Egyptian Parliament—released a statement Monday declaring its support for NGOs. FJP Chairman Dr. Mohamed Morsi said, “The FJP supports immediate lifting of restrictions on the establishment and registration of NGOs, so interested groups can work legally and transparently. Indeed, Egypt needs the support of NGOs especially in the areas of human development, education, technology transfer and public administration.” 

The party’s release also states, “The FJP fully rejects all forms of politically motivated crackdowns against NGOs, and demands that any investigations of alleged irregular or illegal practices must be done in accordance with the law and the due process.” 

Hoeven and the delegation met Monday with Egyptian government and military leaders with regard to the status of the NGO workers, as well as broader relations between the two countries. Those meetings included Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling military council in charge of the government of Egypt, as well as members of parliament, including the speaker and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Senators also met Monday with U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson and seven American NGO workers, including Haag, currently detained in Egypt.