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Wed 29 Feb 2012 08:53 AM

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Egyptian judge resigns from NGO case

Activists accused of illegally receiving funds from abroad

Egyptian judge resigns from NGO case
16 of the 43 defendants are US citizens (Getty Images)

The Egyptian judge handling the trial of dozens of democracy activists, including 16 Americans, accused of illegally receiving funds from abroad, said on Tuesday he would resign, state news agency MENA said.

"Judge Mahmud Mohamed Shukry held a five minute meeting with lawyers today and after it he announced he would step down from the case because he felt embarrassed," a judiciary source who attended the judge's meeting with the lawyers told Reuters, but asked not to be named.

The exact reason for his resignation was not immediately clear.

The case of the 43 foreign and Egyptian non-profit workers, including the 16 Americans has underscored tension between the US and Egypt

The first session of the court took place on Sunday and was adjourned to April 26, raising hopes among the activists' supporters that the case could be dropped to spare further damage to Egypt's ties with its ally Washington.

U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday voiced hope that the issue could still be resolved - but declined to discuss details of what she called "very intensive discussions" with the Egyptian government.

Judge Abdel Moez Ibrahim, head of Cairo Appeal Court, who received Shukry's request to resign told Reuters Shukry did not give a reason for his decision.