The US Congress has threatened to cut military and financial aid to Egypt, citing harassment of non-governmental organizations.
Panetta demands military rulers lift travel ban on American democracy advocates in Egypt
The US Congress has threatened to cut military and financial aid to Egypt, citing harassment of non-governmental organizations, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Tuesday.
Congress has also threatened to halt the activity of American companies in the Arab country.
The recent tug of war between Cairo and Washington began when a number of US citizens working to promote democracy and human rights in Egypt were barred from leaving the country.
Among the US citizens is Egypt director of the International Republican Institute Sam LaHood, the son of US Secretary for Transportation Ray LaHood.
Egyptian authorities are preventing from leaving the country, citing a probe opened last month when heavily armed security forces raided the offices of 10 international organisations. Egyptian officials have defended the raid as part of legitimate investigation into the groups' work and funding.
The investigation is closely intertwined with Egypt's political turmoil since Hosni Mubarak's fall nearly a year ago. The generals who took power have accused "foreign hands" of being behind protests against their rule and frequently depict the protesters as receiving foreign funds in a plot to destabilise the country.
On Monday the Americans sought refuge at the US Embassy in Cairo because they fear they could be arrested or physically harmed due to their activities.
In a letter to Egyptian Military Council head Hussein Tantawi, 11 senators raised the possibility of a cutoff of US aid to Cairo.
“Continued restriction of their activities and harassment of international and Egyptian staff will be looked at with great concern, particularly in light of Egypt’s considerable US assistance,” the senators said in the letter, dated Jan. 18.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta phoned Tantawi on Monday and demanded that he lift the travel ban.
American aid to Egypt includes a yearly stipend of $ 1.3 billion to the army and an additional $300 million in economic aid.
LaHood said he fears Egyptian authorities will put him and his fellow pro-democracy workers on trial.
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