CBS This Morning: Threats to Safety and Security of NGO Workers in Egypt

February 6, 2012

U.S. warns Egypt over detained NGO workers
CBS This Morning
By Norah O'Donnell

As the chaos and protests continue in Egypt, there are now threats to the safety and security of 19 Americans working there, including the son of a member of President Obama's own cabinet.

Sam LaHood, the son of transportation secretary Ray LaHood, heads the Egypt office for the International Republican Institute.

He and at least four of his colleagues in Egypt have been banned from leaving the country, and are among 40 workers from non-governmental organizations an Egyptian judge plans to charge.

The Obama administration has said they are "deeply concerned" about these reports and are urging the Egyptian government to change course or risk billions in American aid.

The situation is so serious that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Munich this weekend, warned Egyptian officials that the U.S. could cut off more than a billion dollars in financial assistance put in place over the past year.

"We will have to closely review these matters as it comes time for us to certify whether or not any of these funds from our government can be made available under these circumstances," said Clinton.

It's unclear what charges the Americans will face, but it seems to be part of a troubling crackdown on international pro-Democracy and human rights groups in the country.

In December, Egyptian security forces carried out 17 raids on non-governmental organizations the country's military rulers, and the Muslim Brotherhood - which rose to power in recent national elections - feel are responsible for the unrest still plaguing the country a year after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted.

There are reports that a number of the Americans who were banned from leaving Egypt are now hiding out in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, but the State Department will not confirm those claims.