US citizens banned from leaving Egypt staying at US embassy

US represenetatives of several NGO's in Egypt are staying at the US embassy after being denied permission to leave the country while an "investigation" is being conducted into funding sources for their organizations.


Several U.S. democracy activists who are being prevented from leaving Egypt have taken refuge at the U.S. embassy in Cairo.

One week after Egyptian officials turned them away from Cairo's airport, several American pro-democracy activists are living in the U.S. embassy compound because State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says they feel more comfortable there.

Egyptian officials say the members of U.S. non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, are part of an investigation into the alleged use of foreign funds to sponsor anti-government protests.

Nuland told reporters on Monday that U.S. officials do not believe that any of the Americans face physical threats in Egypt and that none have been charged with a crime.

"It's not terribly transparent exactly what the circumstances of this case are at this moment," she said. "They, therefore, asked to come in. And the embassy was within their right to invite them, and that is what has happened."

An embassy official says they are not staying there to avoid the Egyptian legal system. In fact, they darn well better be. The fact is, the prosecutor in the case is looking to drum up charges against the activists -- who work for offshoots of the Democratic and Republican parties -- probably by accusing them of being paid Israeli agents or American spies.

It's not exactly a hostage situation -- yet. But the situation is fluid and anything can happen in a chaotic atmosphere such as what Egypt is experiencing.