FoxNews.com Talks to IRI’s Sam LaHood About Staff Being ‘Detained’ in Egypt
Sam LaHood, son of the U.S. Transportation Secretary and one of several Americans barred from leaving Egypt last weekend, said Friday he could be facing five years in jail.
LaHood, the director of the Egyptian program for the International Republican Institute (IRI), was stopped at Cairo’s airport last Saturday when he tried to leave the country and told he was on a “no-fly list.”
He told Fox News by phone on Friday that an Egyptian judge claims he, along with the other Americans stopped, worked for an unregistered non-governmental organization and took a salary.
“We’re kind of expecting the worst,” LaHood said.
“There hasn’t been a lot of movement nothing has really changed.
“If it does go to trial, a trial could last up to one year in a case that’s as wide-ranging as this one is. But the penalty for that is six months to five years in jail so these are very serious charges.”
LaHood said his family — including his father, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — was concerned for his safety, but he didn’t think there were any impending physical threats to his well-being.
“It’s a little bit scary for us to be facing these very serious allegation,” LaHood said.
“I don’t think there is a physical threat to me at this point I have no reason to think that, I mean Cairo traditionally is a very safe city.
“But the legal implications of the ongoing investigations are very serious. If somebody asked me five weeks ago if I thought there was any chance the police were going to come and raid our offices I would have said that was inconceivable, that it was ludicrous.
“And then again if two weeks ago somebody had asked me if I thought there would be a travel restriction I would have thought that was ridiculous, but here now, given all the things taken place, the idea that this could go to trial is entirely possible at this point.”
Egyptian authorities raided more than a dozen offices belonging to local and foreign rights groups in late December, including at least two American ones, drawing a sharp rebuke from the State Department, which said it was “deeply concerned” by the actions.
The raids, part of an investigation into alleged illicit foreign funding, targeted the American groups National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the IRI — a nongovernmental organization operating throughout the world that has close ties to GOP congressional leadership.Top