January 30th, 2012
02:18 PM ET

NGO staff sheltered by embassy in Cairo

By Jill Dougherty and Elise Labott

Three Americans, including International Republican Institute Egypt Country Director Sam LaHood, are taking refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo because they voiced concerns about their personal safety, U.S. government officials say.

"They came in and said they felt threatened; they were afraid for their lives," one official said, adding that the U.S. government doesn't believe they actually are in danger but has concerns about the fate of the groups' Egyptian staff members.

"We are not aware of - that they're in any danger," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.

"We have - in our discussions with the SCAF, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces - we've made clear our concerns about this issue and our disappointment that these several citizens are not being allowed to depart Egypt in connection with the government's investigation into (non-governmental organizations)," Carney said.U.S. officials say State Department criteria mandate that a citizen may take refuge in the Embassy only if they fear for their personal safety, not if they fear arrest.

"We do not believe they were in physical danger, but they had concerns, and they were invited by the embassy," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, explaining that the Americans had approached embassy staff.

"This was a unique situation," Nuland said, adding that there is "no question" those in the Embassy are not trying to avoid the legal process.

But LaHood, the son of Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, said last week that while he felt "safe physically," he was concerned that the investigation into the work of American non-governmental organizations has "taken on a more serious nature, and the next step from here would either be arrest or go to trial."

A source familiar with the circumstances of non-governmental organizations in Egypt confirms that a "handful" of staff members from the International Republican Institute are taking refuge at the American Embassy in Cairo. The source says the decision for them to go the Embassy was made because "there was concern that arrest and trial could be imminent."

Leslie Campbell, director of programs in the Middle East and North Africa for the National Democratic Institute, says that none of its staff members are at the U.S. Embassy. He says the organization "did not think it was necessary at this time."

Both the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute were created by and are partially funded by the State Department and USAID.

Campbell says that "it has gotten worse" and that more people from the National Democratic Institute have been called in for questioning by Egyptian authorities. That institute has been told that six of its staff members are on the "no-fly" list of foreigners who are not allowed to leave the country, but the institute "has not seen the list and has not tried to test it" and remove staff from the country.

Campbell says that there is no "legal process" under way in Egypt and that the government is not communicating with the non-governmental organizations directly.

"There is no warrant, no explanation, no documentation or charges," he said. Almost all of the information the groups are getting comes from Egyptian media reports. Recent articles in the media have indicated that the investigation is almost at an end and "that is the prelude to putting them on trial."

For example, an article in Monday's Al Shurouk newspaper, translated into English, was headlined, "Prosecution to Refer Foreign Funding Case to Criminal Court." It quoted an unidentified "judicial source" as saying, "The list of charges leveled against them include working without an official permit from the Ministry of Social Solidarity and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, receiving foreign funds in violation of the law and spending such funds on activities that harmed the country."

The paper says that "among those hit by the travel ban ... are 13 Americans and eight Europeans, mostly Serbians."

The paper added that the official spokesperson of the Ministry of Justice dismissed claims that a deal has been struck with the United States under which the American officials of the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute would be allowed to leave the country.

"The travel ban," the paper quoted the official as saying, "is a judicial decision made by an independent investigative body. Under no circumstances should Egyptian judicial rulings be swayed."

The fate of the Americans has been a topic of discussion between the U.S. government and the Egyptians.  This weekend, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta spoke with Egyptian Field Marshall Tantawi and, according to a Department of Defense statement, "the Secretary asked that Field Marshall Tantawi take steps to lift the travel ban on American citizens wishing to leave Egypt, and expressed concern over restrictions placed on NGOs operating in Egypt."

This week a delegation from Egypt is in Washington for meetings at the Pentagon and with members of Congress. The fate of the American NGO staff will be discussed during these meetings, Nuland said.  Some members of Congress have been calling for a cessation of U.S. aid to Egypt.

soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Iranacockuptheirass

    Damn..haven't any of you seen planet of the apes? That is modern day Iran, and they must be stopped. damn desert monkey people.

    January 31, 2012 at 9:22 am | Reply
    • Kevon

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      April 5, 2012 at 4:39 am | Reply
  2. The Rock

    All NGO's should be sent for a tour of duty. Only then will the true nature of each of them be revealed, because it is only in conflict that an American can see where the truth lies. Death before dishonor!!!

    January 31, 2012 at 2:14 am | Reply
  3. USMC70114

    I think the Occupy Wallstreet crowd should go over and protest there, see how that works out.....

    January 31, 2012 at 12:24 am | Reply
    • Iranacockuptheirass

      Yes...may all the Whiners suck camel cock while being transported to the desert monkey land for interrogation.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:26 am | Reply
      • The Rock

        Shut the fuck up before I come looking for you camel pussy.

        January 31, 2012 at 2:15 am |
      • Iranacockuptheirass

        Yes cock rock...cum to me you pussy

        January 31, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • XVET

      While you were fighting for your country you missed a few things my friend. You will find this hard to believe but the OWS people are fighting for you and yours here just like you were there. For proof take no ones word, what you could do is start to understand the financial mess with its roots going back to the beginning of 2000. Especially follow what Goldman Sachs did from then until now. Once you have done that you will understand what you missed and my guess is that you may wind up joining OWS. Do your own research and see where it takes you and decyper truth from lies. If you have the guts to do that I will say good job and if you don't you shouldn't be commenting.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:35 am | Reply
      • Iranacockuptheirass

        LOL...fuck you....get off your ass's and work, there's plenty of work. You shit heads dont think your good enough to turn burgers. GET OFF YOUR ASS OR JOIN THE MILITARY!

        January 31, 2012 at 12:38 am |
  4. Maltese Falcon

    "mostly Serbians [!]" Thanks, Woodrow. Great job.

    January 31, 2012 at 12:23 am | Reply
  5. Iranacockuptheirass

    Where's all the rag heads.....I want the desert monkey people....did they all run from embarrassment? Or did a drone find them.

    January 31, 2012 at 12:16 am | Reply
  6. Maltese Falcon

    The... ah... "NGO staff" hid out where? Ah yeah the US Embassy. Right. The secret police were after them. All they were doing was trying to help some poor students overthrow their national government. They represent "Democracy", so they are automaticly good. The repressive dictatorship that O'Bama doesn't like is automaticly BAD. I am so proud to be an AMERIKAN. Yup.

    January 30, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Reply
    • XVET

      You don't seem to have any redeeming features that I can see, you complain about people trying to help people that are incapable of helping themselves and the best you can do is…nothing. Since you can't do anything positive the next best thing is to keep your silly mouth shut and go back to your pretzels and beer, moron.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:28 am | Reply
  7. tacjam01

    I'm sick of hearing about Americans being held in foreign countries. If you hang out in ANY Islamic or Muslim country as an American, your a fool! If hangout and try to press your feeling about democracy on them, your a bigger fool. I don't care about these people, they asked for it. Now let them deal with it!

    January 30, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      tacjam01: As a friend of one of those being barred from travel in Egypt, I can tell you that they are not "hanging out" nor are they trying to "press" their feeling on democracy on anybody. The work that they were doing in Egypt was in cooperation with Egyptian citizens and civil society organizations, who ASKED for help and experience in trying to rebuild their own country. It's called political development and it's an important part of our foreign policy. Lastly, "your" is a possessive pronoun; "You're" is a contraction of "you are".

      January 30, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Reply
      • stefano

        Mr. Grammar cop, "Yours" is the possessive pronoun; "Your" is an adjective. And I fully agree with him. If chooses to go to one of these god forsaken places, you deserve your misfortune.

        January 30, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
      • WolfAK

        Let us all hide in our ever introverted, xenophobic society and make believe our country is awesome.. while it disintegrates into splintered, state-bound. religio-political factions ignoring our citizen's diversity and health. Act like the rest of the world is pointless and let the bullies and extremists take over each section piece by piece... then the military machine can come back because you express a fear of what these countries have become. Of course, only if they have oil, rare earth metals or some other necessary commodity.

        January 30, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
      • American in Texas

        Mike, I hope your friend and the others are able to fulfill their mission. However, if that work is too dangerous at this time, I hope they'll be able to safely return to the USA.

        January 30, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
      • Mike

        Stefano: I learned that my, your, etc. are dependent possessive pronouns, which technically act as adjectives. That probably explains why dictionary.com defines "your" as a pronoun. Admittedly, Merriam-Webster defines it as an adjective. There seems to be room for debate on its grammatical classification, which doesn't make my previous statement incorrect, unlike tacjam01's original post.

        American in Texas: Thanks for your concern and well-wishes.

        January 30, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
      • neil

        Mike,
        I understand what you're saying. But think about this, if I was to ask Hezbula to come to Kanasa to assist in the political develpopment of my cause, would that be the same thing?

        I ask because you state they were invited, but not by the recognized Government. If you're going to develop anything in someone else's country, don't you think you might want to get permission.

        I hope they all get out safe, and wish them no harm. I'm serving in Afghanistan at the moment and hope your friend stays safe. But my hope is tempered by reality of what trully can happen.

        January 31, 2012 at 12:03 am |
      • Iranacockuptheirass

        Then you get your ass over there Mike...May a 1000 camels shoot you from their anals while you fly through the air with feces's in your beard.

        January 31, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • On my knees for God's pleasure

      I have been to Indonesia, UAE, turkey and Egypt and I felt fine.

      You are a fool if you think that ANY Muslim country is dangerous just because you are an American.
      Just use common sense when traveling and you should be fine.

      January 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Reply
      • stefano

        I recommend you don't follow this advice. In a muslim country, we are infidels and there are those who wish to smite us about the head and neck. All the others are in silent collusion.

        January 30, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
      • On my knees for God's pleasure

        You could say the same for blacks traveling to the southern US not long ago.

        "I don't care about these people, they asked for it. Now let them deal with it!"

        January 30, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
      • Iranacockuptheirass

        You are an idiot....they hate ALL AMERICANS...May 2000 camels hold you down and shit in your mouth for such lies

        January 31, 2012 at 12:14 am |
      • XVET

        In reading your post I can see you are as crazy as a bedbug in June. At least you can read and write english and that a start but you should learn to read further about values and such. It's sad isn't it that where you are from & the countries you visit don't have a good educational system for your people. That means you get fed Queerann sleaze that has nothing to do with reality or having a better life. Instead you are taught to live in the past. Too bad for you and yours...

        January 31, 2012 at 12:22 am |
      • On my knees for God's pleasure

        Hey XVET,

        I was reading your comment and wanted you to know that as an American, W.A.S.P. military veteran (served from 2003-2008) I still felt safe in those countries.

        Best of luck to your life dwelling in ignorance.
        Goodbye.

        January 31, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Balaji

      To have a chance for true cghnae, we must take lesson from our past Our history proves we have a foundation of rebellious nature among other questionable behaviors. Let's not argue that but accept it! Now we have a rebellious president who refuses to do things based on the same old policies, procedures and political traditions. I have read the opinions and blogs of others on various website, I see a people afraid of the unknown Without rebellious people like OBAMA true leaders do not exists! If there were not rebellious people standing up for civil rights of woman and minorities than we would still be living in a world as backwards as some third world countries. Without people who are not afraid to admit that the old policies, procedures and practices of this nation are failing the people than progress will not be made. To break free from a failing system something completely new and different must take place and many will not understand the new at first.Obama's leadership style is democratic meaning internal drives and impulses that are centered on human relations and teamwork. He fosters communication that is open and usually two-way creates a spirit of collaboration and joint effort that result in staff satisfaction. I agree he does have some traits of permissive (laissez-faire) style, internal drives and impulses that tend to have some established policies; but abstains from complete leadership. What that tells me about President Obama is that he has enough humility and compassion for others to admit that being the President of the United States is not a ONE MAN JOB! Unless it is Jesus Christ himself than there is not a MAN capable, trustworthy or intelligent enough to handle that load! He is a leader who teaches us to work together. As humans we are all imperfect and until we all fully grasps that concept than many President Bush’s (prideful and self centered) will destroy this country. I wish people would stop judging and being so critical instead ask how they can help. We have a leader who does not mind gathering intelligent minds together so working towards the best possible solution can be achievable. Based on history the democrats do not have all the answers and nor do the Republicans, but given the opportunity to come together no one can come against us! Finally, remember another piece of American history: United we stand divided we fall. We use to be the leading nation in many aspects but now each side, each party and the American people have become so prideful and selfish that we are destroying the fabric that made us great. Yet, one day we will die but our children learning from our mistakes we continue in those mistakes only to destroy what little we have left behind. We cannot continue in the old way the new way must come even if it is uncomfortable at first.Jesus was a rebel in his day too, breaking the traditions of religious leaders and political powers of that time.

      April 7, 2012 at 1:45 am | Reply
  8. Escape from uprising

    Sounds like someone was caught "hiking" again... My oh my, we use the press to report on being wanted but completely omit the facts on what the work was for, who it was for, and what the specific issues were regarding it. Oh wait, that's "details", can't have any of that. Only thing us sheep,e need to know is one of our boys is in trouble and we have to get seal team 6 over there on the double...! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    January 30, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Reply
  9. JD

    LaHood's son said he did not fear for his safety but rather that the investigation into his activities had "taken a serious turn and arrest and trial was imminent. State Department policy is no shelter or refuge unless you are in danger. It specifically says "NOT to prevent arrest or trial". So would our embassy provide this kind of protection to a regular citizen of Joe the Plumber? No. Special treatment for Ray La Hood's son. The privileged political class strikes again.

    January 30, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Reply
  10. Seth V

    What's up with the weird zoom ins and flashing words popping up in the video? Did this become Fox News when I wasn't paying attention?

    January 30, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Reply
  11. Meki60

    more garbage from garbage muslims

    January 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Reply
    • Iranacockuptheirass

      Yes..may all 1000 camels leave you alone for speaking correctly and back firing on the desert monkey people

      January 31, 2012 at 12:22 am | Reply
  12. Yakobi

    It's pretty obvious we should cut off ALL aid to the criminal Egyptian military junta until they have complete, free elections and a democratic government.

    January 30, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Reply
  13. Ms. Havilah DJ Iapalucci

    I am an American who served in the Peace Corps (70-72 Afghanistan, served Ambassador John Volpe managing
    the Villa Parioli in Rome and residing there for two years of my life (73-75) and served Congressman Burt Talcott
    for a year in DC. I am also the author of Impressions of Modern Korea and Come Travel With Me!, served the
    State of NJ working for the Bureau of Children's Services, Head Start in Burlington County, NJ and taught English
    in Korea (1997 to 2009), China (a few months 2006) as well as in NJ, DC and NYC. Why is the DOD Data Information
    Center in Columbus, Ohio trying to break into my computer? Confirmed by Norton – high risk alert with their IP
    address caught. I am appalled. I sent an email to DOD – Pentagon. No reply. I served my country and am
    appalled at its treatment of teachers. But I am still asking myself – why me? Perhaps because I worked with
    Afghan Community in America, (Mr. Habib Mayar its Chairman honored at the White House by President Reagan)
    for the years of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Is that why they would now tap my phone or is it because
    in 1989 I went to Washington immediately on a Saturday morning because the prior Friday evening I heard from
    an Afghan refugee that someone inside Afghanistan was planning some kind of attack on the USA. I reported
    that information to Professor Emeritus Valoga Petrov at the Institute for Sino-Sovet Studies at GWU who promised
    to pass it along to Dr. Gaston Sigur who was the Director when I worked there. So now I am on some kind of
    watch list? I am appalled. Absolutely appalled.

    January 30, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Reply
    • survivn

      Ms. Iapalucci, if this is true, you have made somebody VERY upset within the government and shame on you. My best advice is run because if they really want you they are going to get you. Have a great day!!!!!!!!!!!

      January 30, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Reply
      • Maltese Falcon

        Wow, this must be a real Amerikan Secret Police Agent!
        This must be a terror tactic to cause the victim to be consumed by paranoia.
        P.S. your crusade to reform Islam is garbage.

        January 31, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • Ahem

      Are you complaining or bragging?

      January 30, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Reply
    • Iranacockuptheirass

      Man...you are one paranoid son of a bitch... I bet you got kicked out for doing drugs...May 6000 camels cocks collide at your sphincter opening.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:19 am | Reply
    • Maltese Falcon

      Just the standard blacklist you get in the Amerikan police state. Don't be surprised if you suddenly develop cancer or are killed in an automobile accident.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:45 am | Reply
    • Maltese Falcon

      Same to "Survive-un", "Mayhem", and "Iran?amerikan".

      January 31, 2012 at 1:23 am | Reply
  14. deeceemee

    NGOs are non profit organizations! (In the US, the term NGO is generally reserved for international orgs). You can look up their Form 990s if you want to know who funds them. It is usually a combination of government (USAID, State Dept) funding, private foundation grants, and individual giving.

    January 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  15. Fredflintstone

    Why? Its obvious none of the Muslims want help from other countries...........Either way you are damned if you do, and damned if you dont....so might as well be damned if I dont.

    January 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  16. Nappyrzrbk

    No, it wouldn't be poor writing if the writer had not written out non-governmental organization rather than using its acronym. It's probably to be expect that most readers on here would be familiar with the acronym, or would at least take the time to look it up if they weren't.

    I'm confused as to why the U.S. is merely showing "disappointment" when our people are being held captive and no charges have been filed. I have literally no trust in the legal systems of any Muslim countries

    January 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Reply
    • Kraznodar

      Perhaps it is because when you go to a foreign country you are subject to the legal system of that country. Egypt is not part of the USA. Just as Egyptians have to obey USA law here, we have to obey their laws there. The Egyptian military dictatorship is acting according to their standard investigative process. Thus the USA can express disappointment but has no legal basis for anything more.

      January 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Reply
  17. CaEd

    In the world of alphabet soup organizations, CARE and Amnesty International are well known examples of International NGO's or INGO.
    Here in the US Fannie Mae and Freddi Mac are two of the well known NGO's.

    NGOs have the backing of the government, the most powerful financial force in a developed country and are generally allowed to operate as a monopoly . Due to this status and position, they wield power that they can do things a normal company couldn't.
    Because they are government sponsored, special laws can be passed by the government that further enables them to do things other companies couldn't.

    Not really clear where these NGO get their authority or funding, the article seems to indicate they are US State Department sponsored but how they operate in Egypt, a sovereign nation, as an NGO's, seems odd.

    January 30, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Reply
    • nardami

      The IRI and DNI were not registered in Egypt and therefore are not legally recognized to perform their "work". A recent example of their "work" can been seen in Honduras which now has the distinction of being the country with the highest murder rate in the world according to a new UN report. Poor Honduras benefited from the US supported coup against their democratically elected president who got booted out of the country (Zelaya) to make room for the US-friendly presidnet who decame a dictator and elevated all his coup pals into government positions. Oh, some of them are also linked to narco-trafficking which, not suprisingly, adds to the murder rate. But, good old fashion political murder and torture are once again gaining popularity in the new ruling class. Even the US State Department is embarassed over how disastrously things have turned out. Egypt is wise, very wise, to not register these "NGO's". Maybe they are well informed about foreign affairs?

      January 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Reply
    • nardami

      Yes they are State Department funded...but I would rather not speculate as to which agencies staff them...see comment above!

      January 30, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Reply
    • Maltese Falcon

      The International Republican Institute is not an "NGO". It is a "QGO" – Quasi-Governmental Organisation. It was started and funded by the US government. Like the CIA.

      January 31, 2012 at 1:29 am | Reply
  18. Chris

    Glad I went to Egypt 3 years ago since it isn't the best vacation destination right about now. With that said Egypt is an amazing place to visit and in the future I would make another trip their.

    January 30, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Reply
    • Steve

      Maybe you should hike the Bishop Pass or the Mono Pass or the Franklin Pass or the Minarets or Mount Whitney or Mineral King or Death Valley or Table Top Mountain in Wyoming. Amazing places, nothing man made. There are a thousand others.

      January 30, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Reply
  19. Literate Reader

    NGO stands for Non-governmental Organizations. It IS in the article.

    January 30, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Reply
  20. yeaRight

    George – Non Governmental Organization -

    January 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  21. yeaRight

    "Arab Revolt" was a more accurate name than "Arab Spring". "Spring" sounds fresh and new. Nothing fresh or new about this...

    January 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Reply
    • Maltese Falcon

      The CIA hs been doing it for over half a century.

      January 31, 2012 at 1:31 am | Reply
  22. George Hafner

    What does NGO stand for? Why wouldn't you put that in your article?

    January 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Reply
    • Bill

      Agreed. After reading the article again, I think NGO stands for non-governmental organizations. Poor writing.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Reply
    • Daniel Meade

      Non-Government Organization.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Reply
    • joe

      It is in the article if you read it carefully.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Reply
    • Tim

      I think they expected the target audience to already be familiar with the acronym.

      January 30, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Reply

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