US 'tried to hijack Egypt's uprising'
Cairo - An Egyptian minister widely seen as the driving force behind trials of foreign pro-democracy activists, including Americans, told prosecutors that the United States tried to hijack the country's uprising, official media reported on Monday.
International co-operation minister Fayza Abul Naga, one of the few remaining ministers from ousted president Hosni Mubarak's government, made the accusation in statements to investigating judges in October, the official MENA news agency reported.
The impending trials of 44 activists, including 19 Americans, have deepened a rift between the traditional allies, with the State Department hinting that the crackdown could jeopardise American aid to Egypt.
Abul Naga said "the January 25 uprising came as a surprise to the United States, and it slipped from its control when it transformed into a people's revolution."
"That was when the United States decided to use all its resources and instruments to contain the situation and push it in a direction that promotes American and also Israeli interests," the agency quoted her as saying.
MENA reported that a judicial investigation into the funding of several civil society groups found that the United States had diverted aid promised for infrastructure to the NGOs.
Illegal foreign funding
Cairo prosecutors backed by police in December stormed the offices of the US-funded International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House as part of a probe into the NGO's alleged illegal foreign funding.
They were among 17 offices of local and international NGOs raided.
The crackdown was part of a wider campaign by Egypt's military rulers to silence dissent after months of criticism of its human rights record, analysts said.
The ruling generals, who took charge of the country after an uprising forced president Hosni Mubarak to resign a year ago, traditionally had close ties with the United States, the Egyptian military's most generous foreign benefactor.
The aid workers are accused of "setting up branches of international organisations in Egypt without a license from the Egyptian government" and of "receiving illegal foreign funding".