Tomorrow Egypt will see another court session in what has become widely known as the NGO trial. In December 2011, eight months after Hosni Mubarak was toppled and just days after the first free parliamentary election phase began, Egyptian police raided the Cairo offices of 10 non-governmental organizations (NGO) that were working in Egypt, monitoring elections and educating parties and voters in the country. Initially, no reason was given for the raids in which a total of 43 NGO staffers, including 19 Americans, were held at gunpoint while watching their offices get ransacked. Computers, files, private laptops and even cash was taken without a warrant shown or an explanation given. It took almost two months until the prosecution released both the accusations and the names of those officially being charged.
Robert Becker, at the time a political party trainer and election observer for the American NGO the National Democratic Institute (NDI), still recalls how he learned that a court case was going to shape his future.