CAIRO (Reuters) – An Egyptian judge has issued an order banning a former presidential candidate from travelling abroad over suspicions he may be linked to a case alleging foreign financing to harm national security, state news agency MENA reported on Saturday.
Khaled Ali, a prominent rights lawyer who ran in the 2012 presidential election, had not previously been part of the case, in which several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are accused of receiving foreign funds.
Ali, who has denied any involvement, told Reuters on Saturday that he “had not been summoned for questioning in that case at any time during this period”.
Ali came seventh in Egypt’s first free presidential election in 2012, which Islamist Mohamed Mursi won.
Last year, he announced his intention to challenge President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in his bid for a second term. But he later withdrew from the race saying conditions did not allow for a fair contest.
The case, which has affected a number of people, including Hossam Bahgat, founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), and Gamal Eid, founder of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, dates back to late 2011.
The government has long accused human rights groups of taking foreign funds to stoke unrest, and several are facing investigation.
Egyptian rights activists say they face the worst crackdown in their history under Sisi, accusing him of eroding freedoms won in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.
Last month, a court upheld a three-month suspended prison sentence against Ali on charges of public indecency in a case dating back to 2017, in which he maintained his innocence.
(Reporting by Mohamed Abdellah and Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Andrew Bolton)