Americans In Egypt Outrage

January 27, 2012 by staff 

Americans In Egypt Outrage, Six Americans working for publicly funded organizations promoting democracy in Egypt, have been barred from leaving the country, provoking angry demands in Washington that Cairo’s new military rulers stop “endangering American lives.”

Among those hit by travel bans – one of those targeted called it “de facto detention” – is a son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, as well as other foreign staffers of the International Re-publican Institute and National Democratic Institute.

“We are urging the government of Egypt to lift these restrictions immediately and allow these folks to come home as soon as possible,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nu-land said. Some see it as a poor omen for Egypt’s fledgling democracy following last year’s overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak.

John McCain, the leading Republican senator who chairs the IRI, voiced “alarm and outrage” at a “new and disturbing turn.”

“I call on the Egyptian government and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to cease the harassment and unwarranted investigations of American NGOs operating in Egypt,” McCain said.

Mubarak had a close alliance with Washington, which is now trying to build a relationship with an Egypt run by his old army colleagues but expecting to be ruled eventually by a parliament in which Islamists have won a big majority in a free vote.

Visiting Cairo, the U.S. State Department’s top human rights official, Michael Posner, declined to comment on the travel bans. However, he noted that the release of aid was dependent on Congress, where many disapprove of Egypt’s actions against the NGOs and which is waiting for reports from the State Department before voting.

“The NGO issue is very much part of that package and as you know there has been considerable attention in the Congress to the restrictions on NGOs,” Posner told reporters.

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