CAIRO - The trial of dozens of democracy activists including 16 Americans began on Sunday in a politically charged case which is threatening ties between Cairo and Washington and $1.3 billion in annual US military aid.
Forty-three foreign and Egyptian non-profit workers - including the son of the US transportation secretary - are accused of receiving illegal funds from abroad and carrying out political activities unrelated to their civil society work.
In a crowded courtroom on the outskirts of Cairo, lawyers who said they were volunteering in the case against the activists, demanded the defendants be imprisoned and accused them of "espionage".
"These organizations are accused of espionage and going against the law. Most of them are in contact with the CIA. These organizations gathered information and reports on Egypt and sent them to the US State Department," Khaled Suleiman, a lawyer acting against the organizations, said.
Those accused in the case were banned from leaving Egypt pending the trial and some of the US citizens targeted in the probe have taken refuge at the American embassy.
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