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Cairo: U.S. 'tried to hijack' Egypt revolt

  |   Feb. 15, 2012 at 3:30 AM
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CAIRO, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Washington sought to turn the Egyptian revolution into chaos to serve U.S. and Israeli interests, an Egyptian official told lawyers prosecuting 19 Americans.

The United States "tried to hijack" the revolution that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak, "directing it to serve its interests and the interests of Israel," said Fayza Abul Naga, Egyptian minister of state for international cooperation and planning.

Despite what Washington says, a modern Egyptian democracy "represents the biggest threat to the interests of Israel and the (United States), not in Egypt alone, but in the region as a whole," said Abul Naga, 61, a holdover from the Mubarak regime who initiated the investigation into foreign financing of non-profit groups in Egypt -- and who The New York Times said Wednesday was defying Egypt's military rulers by pressing the criminal case against the Americans.

The Americans were accused of illegally using foreign funds to foment unrest in Egypt.

U.S. President Barack Obama and congressional leaders have said Egypt could lose $1.55 billion in annual aid over the case.

Of the three main U.S. NGOs involved, the International Republican Institute serves a "right-wing conservative" U.S. Republican Party agenda, Abul Naga said, while the National Democratic Institute serves the Democratic Party agenda and Freedom House is an alleged tool of "the Jewish lobby and its circles in the U.S.," Egypt's official Middle East News Agency reported.

"The American determination and persistence to support these organizations to engage in political activities is a blatant violation of the law, which represents clear harm to national security" and Egyptian sovereignty, she said.

Washington pumped $105 million into civil-society organizations in Egypt between February and September 2011, she said.

Mubarak stepped down Feb. 11, 2011.

The NGOs are federally financed and have close ties to congressional leaders. They are chartered to promote democracy abroad.

The State Department had no immediate comment on Abul Naga's charges.

Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said her department had received a document laying out the charges against the NGO staff members and was translating it from Arabic.

"We are continuing to work as hard as we can with the Egyptian government to work our way through this, and we continue to insist that our people have done nothing wrong and that they ought to be allowed to come home," Nuland said Tuesday.

Among the Americans being held is Sam LaHood, the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The Americans have sought shelter at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo out of fear of arrest, U.S. officials have said.

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