The PJ Tatler

Egypt to Prosecute 19 Americans, Including Sam LaHood

The charge: Spending money for organizations operating in Egypt without a license. That may not sound like much, but the charges are criminal, these groups have all operated in Egypt for years and Egypt has a history of imprisoning people for political reasons for very long periods of time.

IRI’s Sam LaHood, the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, was the first of 43 names published Monday afternoon on the Arabic-language Web site by state-owned newspaper al-Ahram. Several other American and Egyptian IRI employees are also being charged.

National Democratic Institute Egypt head Julie Hughes is also on the list, along with more than a dozen colleagues of various nationalities. Also charged is Patrick Butler of the International Center for Journalists.

The list published Monday names 14 of the individuals charged in the probe as “fugitives,” suggesting several managed to leave Egypt before the government imposed a travel ban on those under investigation.

The Obama administration and the media don’t want to, and won’t, use the “h” word but at this point it’s hard to see how the 19 Americans being held in Egypt are anything but hostages. The military is in charge of their arrests, and seems to be using them to regain credibility with the proverbial Arab street by making a show of picking up some foreigners, and especially Americans. The inclusion of Sam LaHood, son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (who is a Republican) ensures that however quietly the administration may treat this publicly, the detentions will get a lot of very high level attention.