Sat, Jan 28, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Egypt bans foreigners from leaving

GROUNDED:Cairo’s move to clamp down on pro-democracy and pro-human rights non-governmental organizations could imperil much-needed US military aid to Egypt

AP, Cairo

Two other Americans and a European with the IRI have also been banned from leaving the country, LaHood said his lawyer have been told. From the NDI, three Americans and three Serb employees are also on the list, according to its Egypt director Lisa Hughes.

The Department of State’s top human rights official, Michael Posner, said in Cairo on Thursday that such moves could jeopardize US aid to Egypt, one of the biggest recipients.

“All need to have the ability to operate openly, freely, without constraint, not based on the content of their work,” he said.

Posner pointed to recent US legislation that blocks annual aid to Egypt unless it takes certain steps. These include abiding by its 1979 peace treaty with Israel, holding free and fair elections and “implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association and religion and due process of law.”

The US is scheduled to give US$1.3 billion in military assistance and US$250 million in economic aid to Egypt this year. Washington has given Egypt an average of US$2 billion in economic and military aid a year since 1979, according to the US Congressional Research Service.

Egypt’s military has been locked in a confrontation for months with protesters who demand it immediately hand over power to civilians.

Hundreds of protesters camped on Thursday in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square, a day after several hundred thousand people massed there to mark the one-year anniversary of the 18-day anti-Mubarak uprising.

On Thursday evening, hundreds moved from Tahrir and rallied in front of the state TV building, beating drums as they chanted for the “liberation” of state-run media from the military’s control. They projected video footage of soldiers beating protesters onto the building.

State TV has been a mouthpiece of the military, broadcasting its accusations against protesters. Activists demand it be restructured as an independent media institution.

“The media is still manipulated and projects the same lies,” protester Mahmoud Ragab said. “We will be here every day to let them know it is a revolution.”

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