By Adam Levine
The United States received the formal charging document from the Egyptian government that outlines the case against the staff of pro-democracy organizations, including 16 Americans, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
The Egyptians say the pro-democracy organizations had received illegal foreign financing and were operating without a proper license. But some of the groups had been tacitly operating for some time in Egypt without permission, even under former leader Hosni Mubarak, who was pushed from office in the initial wave of the Arab Spring protests last year.
The report , which Nuland said was between 100 and 175 pages and written in Arabic, was given to the U.S. on Wednesday morning. It is being translated and reviewed to understand the legal case, implications and what is expected of those charged, Nuland said at a press briefing on Wednesday.
Nuland said that despite the charges, the U.S. does not consider the case truly a judicial one.
"Our view remains that this is not fundamentally a judicial issue. This is an issue between the two governments," Nuland said, saying it is really a disagreement about the "appropriate role" that foreign NGOs should play in supporting a democracy and "ensuring that the environment for their operation is clear, is well understood, and that we have an agreement among us."
"We've been asking to resolve this goverment-to-government," Nuland said. As part of that effort, CNN reported that the top U.S. military official, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, will be traveling to Cairo later this week to meet with his Egyptian counterparts.
Dempsey will not present any ultimatums to the Egyptian military on the Americans being detained but will suggest that the Egyptians be aware U.S. aid is at risk.
"He will say you have choices and there are consequences to those choices," according to Dempsey's spokesman Col. Dave Lapan.
Of the Americans charged, less than half are still in Egypt. Those who are still in country have been invited to move onto the embassy compound.
The Egyptian government has not asked for those Americans at the embassy to be turned over or turn themselves in, although Nuland said there might be instructions in the charging document that they are still reviewing.