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Egypt Begins Prosecution of Americans on Illegal Fundraising Charges

Egyptian soldiers stand guard in front of the US National Democratic Institute. FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Before a trial that alleges as many as 19 Americans guilty of receiving illegal funding from foreign governments goes too much further in Egypt, the Obama administration is trying to work out a deal with the country.

Even before the trial got underway on Sunday, U.S. and Egyptian officials were discussing ways to work out an equitable solution that won't also affect the $1.3 billion aid package Cairo receives annually from Congress.

The Americans belong to non-government organizations (NGOs), such as the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, which aim to help Egypt transition to a democracy after President Hosni Mubarak was deposed last February.

According to the State Department, the charges brought against the NGOs and 43 pro-democracy activists are fallacious and an attempt to intimidate groups that have issues with the military council currently leading Egypt ahead of elections this spring.

As of now, the charges against the NGOs have widespread support among the population, giving them less of a reason to cut a deal with the U.S.

The prosecution is demanding that the Americans, some of whom sought refuge inside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, be jailed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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