FP: You attended your last hearing on April 10. How did the last court proceedings go?
RB: We were led to believe they were going to open all the evidence. The offices of 17 organizations were raided. None of that evidence got sealed. It's got to be truckloads: files, computers. The session was supposed to start at 10 a.m. but it didn't convene until noon. There were about 45 minutes of civil complaints. One lawyer wants to charge us with espionage; another wants to bring a suit against the judges who intervened on the travel ban. Then there was a reading of the defendants and a reading of the charges. The judges went into recess, then came back almost two hours later. They announced that the next court date would be on April 18 [later postponed to June 5], and that it would be based on a series of documents requested by the prosecution but that the defense attorneys have never seen.
FP: Explain to me your own experience and the nature of your job as a political trainer who has advised thousands of activists, Islamists, and members of parliament during Egypt's revolution?
RB: At one point there were over 120 new political parties being formed [in a period of two months]. You had a totally new system. So our role was to teach. I worked in politics for 20 years. I worked in multiparty democracy, a very similar set-up to here. So we offered a range of training: how do organize a campaign, how to communicate with voters door to door, advertise. For candidates we did media training: How you give a good interview, a good print interview, a good television interview. We offered this training day in, day out, for any party. My team and I taught three to four thousand political activists all over the country. Pretty much every time we held training we had a wide mix: Al Nour, the Freedom and Justice Party, Wafd, Free Egyptian Youth, Popular Alliance, the April 6 Movement.
FP: Did you contact them or did they contact you?
RB: A little bit of both. Every week we would announce what we were doing that week -- say, a course on door-to-door campaigning -- and they'd say, "We're going to send three people, four people." Some of the parties requested more specific things, so we did a lot of one-on-one training for them.
Some people teach math, some people teach literature. All I can teach is how to run for office, how to run a campaign. And we did.
NDI has been here for six years, since 2005. We run a very transparent operation. We routinely met with the various ministries overseas. We had nothing to hide. In the six months that I was teaching political parties and political activists, I was very well-received. They were very eager to learn.
FP: And later you observed the elections?