Monday, November 20, 2017

7 American pro-democracy workers fly out of Egypt

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CAIRO — Seven Americans on trial over charges their pro-democracy groups fomented unrest flew out of Egypt on Thursday after the United States posted nearly $5 million in bail for them and nine others who managed to leave before a travel ban was imposed.

Their departure eased a deep diplomatic crisis between the United States and Egypt that had been building for two months, following a crackdown on pro-democracy and human rights groups by the Egyptian government.

Though the seven Americans, including Sam Lahood, son of Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood, were safely on their way home, Washington indicated its anger over the affair has not abated.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expressed relief that the Americans were free, but she pointedly noted that no decision has been made about U.S. aid to Egypt.

As the crisis unfolded over the past two months, furious officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, warned the $1.3 billion in military aid and $250 million in economic assistance slated for Egypt this year was in jeopardy.

Nuland pointed out Thursday that the court case against the pro-democracy groups is not over.

The 16 Americans facing charges are not expected to return to Egypt, but their trial has not been called off. After the first session Sunday, it was adjourned until April, and that ruling still stands.

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