Egypt bans travel on members of U.S.-funded group

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 26, 2012 5:49 AM

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's authorities have imposed a travel ban on four members of a U.S.-funded pro-democracy organization in a row over its activities, a member of an NGO with knowledge of the case said on Thursday, in a step expected to escalate tensions with the United States.

The four members of the International Republican Institute (IRI) include three U.S. citizens. One is Sam LaHood, the IRI's Egypt director who is the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

"It is a de facto detention," the member of a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Cairo told Reuters, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

The judges investigating the case have charged the four with managing an unregistered NGO and being paid employees of an unregistered organization, charges that could carry up to five years in jail, he said. The IRI had no immediate comment.

The group is in Egypt and has been forbidden to travel outside the country.

(Reporting by Patrick Werr and Sherine El Madany; Writing by Edmund Blair)