Seven American democracy advocates who had been prevented for weeks from leaving Egypt and were accused of being there illegally are now on their way out of the country, NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Cairo.
“They are walking through security in the VIP terminal at the Cairo Airport,” she just said in an email to our Newscast desk.
As we’ve been reporting in recent weeks, Egyptian officials had accused the Americans, as well as some other foreigners, of illegally interfering in the country’s affairs. The Americans include Sam LaHood, son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The younger man is director of the U.S.-sponsored International Republican Institute.
The Americans have denied the accusations. One charge, that they were in the country illegally, was unfair because the Americans had repeatedly tried to obtain the required clearances but had been ignored by the government, they have said.
Word surfaced Wednesday that Egyptian authorities had decided to allow the Americans to leave. The U.S. State Department had put pressure on Egypt. According to The Associated Press, Egyptian officials are claiming that the U.S. “has posted bail” for the seven.
Nine other Americans who the Egyptians also wanted to charge previously left the country.