Dec. 20 (UPI) -- An Egyptian court on Thursday acquitted 40 people accused of running a nonprofit organization without official approval.
The Cairo Criminal Court was retrying the defendants over charges they received $60 million in foreign funds for the nonprofits without proper licenses. They were accused of receiving the money for "restricted activities and in violation of the state's policy."
The so-called "foreign funding case" has been a sore spot in U.S.-Egypt relations for seven years, as 29 of the accused were U.S. citizens.
The NGOs included several U.S.-based institutions, including the International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute and the Freedom House. Washington provides $1.3 billion in military aid each year to Cairo.
Sam LaHood, son of former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, was director of the IRI and was barred from leaving the country, as were others associated with the NGOs.
"Word is that we were acquitted in Cairo Court!" LaHood tweeted Thursday. "I hope this is the first step in reversing the damage done by case 173 to Egypt and her great people."