Americans on trial can leave Egypt

2012-03-01 19:45

Cairo - Seven American democracy workers facing trial in Egypt on charges of fomenting unrest are free to leave the country after the US posted nearly $5m in bail to win their release, Egyptian officials said on Thursday.

Court officials said the US paid bail for the seven and nine other Americans charged in the case who had already left Egypt. It was set at $300 000 for each of the 16 or $4.8m. Egypt lifted the travel ban on the seven late on Wednesday and set the bail.

A convoy of white vans carrying the sign of US Embassy arrived at Cairo airport carrying the seven Americans, who include the son of US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. They had sought refuge at the US embassy, fearing arrest.

The case has infuriated Washington, which threatened to cut off $1.5bn in annual aid to Egypt.

The Americans worked at non-profit groups promoting democracy in Egypt and were charged with stoking anti-government unrest with illegal foreign funding.

The case sparked intense behind-the-scenes negotiations between the two countries to find a way out.