Egypt Slaps 16 Americans With Jail Terms

All but one convicted in absentia, including son of transportation chief Ray LaHood
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2013 11:42 AM CDT
Egypt Slaps 16 Americans With Jail Terms
In this 2009 photo, Sam LaHood, left, watches as his father Ray is sworn in as Transportation Secretary.   (AP Photo/Transportation Department)

If Egypt had its way, the son of one of President Obama's Cabinet members would spend the next five years in prison. Sam LaHood, son of transportation chief Ray LaHood, was among 16 Americans convicted today in an Egyptian court, accused by the government there of trying to foment unrest in their roles with non-governmental organizations, reports Reuters. LaHood and 15 others are back in the US and were convicted in absentia. They all received five-year sentences.

The 16th, Robert Becker, stayed behind in solidarity with Egyptians caught up in last year's crackdown on NGOs, and he received a two-year sentence, reports the AP. Becker plans to appeal, and it's not clear whether he will remain free in the interim. In addition to the Americans, the court convicted 27 others of various nationalities. The Americans convicted belonged to both Republican and Democrat groups. "The government of President Mohammed Morsi basically accused them of trying to undermine that regime by encouraging unrest," writes Mark Memmott at NPR. (Read more Ray LaHood stories.)

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