Egypt bans US citizens from leaving country

Egypt bans US citizens from leaving country

Egypt has banned the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and a number of other Americans from leaving the country as tensions rise over moves by Egyptian authorities to restrict the work of international rights organizations.

The State Department’s top human rights official, Michael Posner, told reporters in Cairo that the apparent campaign against pro-democracy groups raised concerns about Egypt’s transition to democracy after Hosni Mubarak’s ouster and warned it could affect future assistance to Egypt, one of the largest recipients of U.S. aid. 

Sam LaHood, who heads the International Republican Institute in Egypt, was recently kept from boarding a flight out of Egypt. LaHood’s father, a former congressman from Illinois, is transportation secretary and the most prominent Republican in President Barack Obama’s administration. The IRI was one of 10 organizations raided last month by Egyptian security forces, which carried off computers and boxes of files and interrogated staff members. 

Meanwhile, Egyptian activists are expected to hold mass rally today, after they spent the night in Cairo’s Tahrir Square marking the first anniversary of the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. At least 27 pro-democracy groups have called for the rally to press for democratic change, with marches to set off from mosques after the noon Muslim prayer towards Tahrir, the National Front for Justice and Democracy said.