Egyptian investigating judges today referred 43 NGO workers, including 19 Americans, to trial before a criminal court for allegedly being involved in banned activities and illegally receiving foreign funds. Among the Americans is Sam LaHood, the head of the Egypt office of the International Republican Institute and the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Egypt had previously banned the younger LaHood from leaving. Five Serbs, two Germans, and three non-Egyptian Arab nationals were also referred to trial.
The referral is the latest development in a long-running row over Egypt's crackdown on US-funded groups promoting democracy and human rights. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton warned that failure to resolve the dispute may lead to the loss of $1.3 billion in military assistance and $250 million in economic aid. Already, Egyptian authorities are preventing at least six Americans and four Europeans from leaving the country, citing a probe opened last month when heavily armed security forces raided the offices of 17 pro-democracy and rights groups.