WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- The United States warned Egypt it could lose about $1.4 billion in U.S. aid for planning to try 19 Americans in criminal court on financial charges.
The Americans, among 43 foreign workers charged with spending money from organizations operating in Egypt without a license, include Sam LaHood, the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, The Washington Post reported.
Sam LaHood heads the Egypt office of the International Republican Institute.
In a statement, the pro-democracy IRI said Egypt's move "reflects escalating attacks against international and Egyptian democracy organizations."
Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called on Egypt Monday to release the Americans immediately.
"These Americans have done absolutely nothing wrong. They do what American and international [non-governmental organization]` workers do in various different parts of the world, which is to support democratic development and civil society," Rice told CBS News.
Rice said the U.S. government will "continue to press the Egyptian government to understand that this has serious consequences for our bilateral relationship and that these individuals must be released."
Her comments came after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton threatened to cut the aid to Egypt while she was in Munich, Germany.
"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," Clinton said.
CBS News reported some of the workers had been banned from leaving the country.
A list of the 43 workers published Monday on an Arabic-language Web site owned by the state-owned newspaper al-Ahram described 14 of those facing trial as "fugitives," which suggests some may have left before the government imposed a travel ban on those being investigated, the Post reported.
CBS said the State Department would not confirm reports some of the Americans under investigation are in hiding at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
The U.S. network said the government of Egypt, where protests are an everyday occurrence, appears to be targeting international pro-democracy and human rights groups in the country.