Finding refuge in the U.S. embassy in Cairo

Reuters

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Finding refuge in the U.S. embassy in Cairo.

Several American citizens are seeking safety in the embassy after six Americans were banned from leaving the country.

The unusual step of offering ordinary U.S. citizens diplomatic refuge follows a crackdown by Egypt's military-led authorities on non-governmental organizations. Now the future of U.S. aid to Egypt's military -- about 1.3 billion dollars per year -- is in doubt.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ARAB CENTER FOR AN INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY DIRECTOR GENERAL, NASSER AMIN, SAYING:

"We have been over the last week or so trying to seek clarity from the Egyptians about the travel restrictions on these individuals, and as I said more broadly about the NGO's operating in Cairo, in Egypt, both international ones as well as Egyptian ones."

Authorities banned six American staffers from leaving the country, among them members of the International Republican Institute, whose staff was seen here during last November's parliamentary elections in Egypt alongside U.S. Republican lawmaker, David Dreier.

Egyptian NGOs were also targeted by the raids.

The Arab Center for an Independent Judiciary had its offices combed by security forces for seven hours.

Director General Nasser Amin is the director of the Arab Center for an Independent Judiciary.

SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ARAB CENTER FOR AN INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY DIRECTOR GENERAL, NASSER AMIN, SAYING:

"There are two issues here - there are things going on behind the scenes in Egyptian-American relations, I think, which have played a big role in the targeting of specific foreign organizations in Egypt. But I am more interested in the bigger picture, in what is happening to the Egyptian revolution. This is a decisive moment of confrontation between the supporters of the old regime still present in the institutions of state, and between human rights organizations which have worked for twenty years to set the stage for the revolution,"

He says the move also reflects strains between the U.S. and Egypt.

SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ARAB CENTER FOR AN INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY DIRECTOR GENERAL, NASSER AMIN, SAYING:

"I think that this situation indicates a very big strain in U.S.-Egyptian relations. There is a state of tension between the Egyptian and American administrations, even when it has come to the solving of this problem, which could have been much simpler. But this situation has escalated considerably because of the tensions between the U.S. and Egypt."

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the issue.

Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.

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