US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood's son is one of several people currently not allowed to leave Egypt as tensions mount between America and the Middle Eastern country.
Nineteen U.S. citizens, including the son of U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood, have been referred for trial in Egypt in a dispute over the activities and funding of pro-democracy groups, judicial sources said on Saturday, deepening a row with the United States.
Washington has strongly criticized the crackdown on the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and an unspecified number of U.S. citizens involved have sought shelter in the U.S. embassy.
Egypt, among the largest recipients of U.S. aid since its 1979 peace treaty with Israel, has been told by U.S. lawmakers assistance may be cut because of its treatment of the groups.
Sam LaHood watches as his father Ray is sworn in as U.S. Transportation Secretary on Jan. 23, 2009.
Several U.S. citizens and other foreigners involved have been barred from leaving Egypt. They include Sam LaHood, the country director of the International Republican Institute who is the son of the U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
"The cases of 40 foreign and Egyptian suspects have been transferred to the Cairo criminal court related to foreign funding," a judicial source told Reuters. State news agency MENA also carried the report.
Egyptian officials say the crackdown is part of a probe into foreign funding of NGOs. But civil society groups say the ruling military council ordered the raids to harass activists who were at the forefront of the anti-Mubarak revolt and have been pressing for the army to swiftly hand power to civilians.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Saturday a crackdown by Egypt's military rulers on U.S. and local pro-democracy groups could jeopardize aid for the Arab nation.
The 40 NGO activists include 19 Americans alongside others who are Serbian, Norwegian, Lebanese as well as Egyptian, according to a statement issued by judges overseeing the probe and seen by Reuters. One judge involved said the list included LaHood.
The charge listed in the statement was "running organizations without getting the required licenses." One of the judges running the investigation said that investigations were continuing with Egyptians in other similar cases.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr told Clinton during his meeting with her that all groups, regardless of country of origin, had to abide by Egypt's laws on registration, the ministry's spokesman Amr Rushdy said in a statement.
The National Democratic Institute, one of the U.S.-funded groups whose staff are facing travel bans, said it began work in 2005 and sought to register the same year but after responding to some official queries after that no progress was made.
However, the group says it has operated openly since then, engaging with officials regularly.
Reuters and msnbc.com's Alastair Jamieson contributed to this report.