Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abou-Zeid, center, known by his nickname Shawkan arrives to his first court court hearing, in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, March 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mohamed Elraai)
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Egypt has launched a new crackdown on human rights groups, questioning staff and ordering asset freezes over accusations they took foreign funding to destabilize the country after the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.It is not clear how many groups will be investigated in the case that has so far affected staff or management from at least six of Egypt's best-known rights groups.Egypt's Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Waly, who oversees the NGO sector in Egypt, did not respond to a written request for comment this week.NGOs have felt exposed since late 2011, when authorities raided 17 pro-democracy and rights groups, accusing them of joining a foreign conspiracy against Egypt.A case against dozens more Egyptian NGOs and lawyers was never closed but remained largely dormant until this year.It is not illegal for NGOs in Egypt to receive foreign funding, according to Negad al Borai, a senior lawyer and anti-torture campaigner who is representing Bahgat and others, but that funding may not be used for illegal activities, including those that undermine security.
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