January 31, 2012
Several Americans have taken refuge in the US Embassy in the Egyptian capital over fears of being arrest after Egypt’s military junta accused them of orchestrating protests against the country’s rulers.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Monday confirmed that the US embassy was sheltering “a handful” of Americans working for the US-funded International Republican Institute in Cairo.
Sam LaHood, the son of US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood who supervised the institution’s work in Egypt, is among those hiding in the Embassy.
Egyptian officials banned several of the institutes’ staff members from leaving the country through the Cairo International Airport. The ban was issued after Egyptian military forces raided several NGOs, charging them of receiving financial support from the US.
The International Republican Institute, chaired by Republican Senator John McCain since 1993, claims to be promoting democracy and freedom around the world.
McCain earlier threatened Cairo that Washington could cut of its annual USD 1.5 billion aid to Egypt should the travel ban on the institution’s staff members not be lifted.
“This can affect our whole relationship, particularly our military aid,” McCain said, adding that he is “terribly” disappointed with Egypt’s accusations against the organization.
Egyptian protesters in mid-January held a demonstration to condemn the United States’ interference in Egypt’s internal affairs. They also called for the closure of the US embassy in Cairo.
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