Saying that "these Americans have done absolutely nothing wrong," the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations this morning called on Egypt to immediately allow 19 U.S. citizens to leave that country and to drop plans to accuse them of illegally funding groups that oppose Egypt's ruling military regime.
On CBS News' This Morning, Ambassador Susan Rice said that if Egypt follows through and charges the Americans with crimes there could be "serious consequences for our bilateral relations."
Egypt is due to get about $1.5 billion in U.S. aid this year.
The Americans, as we've previously reported, include Sam LaHood — the 36-year-old son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The younger man directs the Egypt offices of the International Republican Institute, a U.S.-government sponsored organization that promotes democracy. He has previously said the IRI has done nothing to aid the groups that have been protesting against the military council that took control after the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak's regime one year ago.
Some of the Americans are being sheltered at the U.S. embassy in Cairo. All told, Egypt says it plans to charge 40 people — including 14 Egyptians — with allegedly fomenting opposition.