At a time when the Obama administration has discussed speeding up U.S. aid to them, Egyptian authorities are blocking some Americans from leaving the country.
Sam Lahood, son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, was not allowed to leave Egypt Saturday, Politico reports. Lahood runs the International Republican Institute (IRI)'s Egypt program and was involved in monitoring the country's recent elections. The IRI was among 17 non-governmental organizations raided by military authorities last month.
Lahood was told he was listed on a government "no-fly" list keeping him from leaving Egypt. He and the others listed "now find themselves caught in a power struggle between the United States and Egyptian governments over the country's future direction," Politico reports.
Direct efforts by President Obama and senior officials have not broken the stalemate.
"We are disappointed that these restrictions were imposed," an unnamed State Department official told Politico, "and we are working with the government of Egypt to lift them and allow these Americans to come home as quickly as possible. We hope to have this issue resolved within the next couple of days."
Michal Posner, a top State Department human rights officer, said the situation could affect U.S. aid to Egypt. "Obviously, any action that creates tension between our governments makes the whole package more difficult," he said.
The Dec. 29 raid on the NGO offices prompted a group of senators to threaten drastic cuts in future U.S. aid.
IRI President Lorne Craner said that, thus far, American pressure about the NGO raids has yielded little.
"That's very worrisome when there's been that much engagement by the U.S. government and the Congress, and there's no movement on behalf of the Egyptians," he said.
Egyptian officials have indicated they were concerned about "foreign influence" in their elections. Other NGOs raided include the Freedom House and the National Democratic Institute. Both the Republican and Democratic Institutes were created by Congress.