Hoeven Calls on Egyptian Government to Free Fargo Native, All American Detainees

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today in a pointed letter to Egyptian ambassador to the United States Sameh Shoukry demanded that the Egyptian government release North Dakota native Staci Haag and 19 other Americans working for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Egypt. Haag and the others are now threatened with trial in Egyptian courts for promoting democracy and human rights.

 Hoeven had planned to make the demand in person to an Egyptian military delegation he was scheduled to meet with Wednesday in Washington; however, the Egyptian delegation abruptly cancelled all of their meetings with U.S. officials. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, which is the panel that approves aid for Egypt, he and Senate colleagues are currently reviewing the status of FY12 appropriations for Egypt, and are carefully considering how Egypt responds in this matter as a part of any future appropriations decision, he said.

           In late December, workers with several respected NGOs found their offices ransacked, their property stolen and their employees threatened.  Since then, Egypt has moved to block their exit from the country and initiated legal proceedings against them.  These organizations are well known to Egyptian officials.  Their operations are long-standing and their activities fully disclosed. Egyptian officials had not expressed legal concerns about these groups in the past, leading to the conclusion that the actions against employees of these NGOs are politically motivated. 

           “Unless Egypt changes its action, I do not believe the Secretary of State should certify that Egypt is meeting the conditions necessary to receive the aid Congress approved in Fiscal Year 2012,” Hoeven wrote. “I hope that you will convey my concerns to the authorities in Egypt, and I hope that this situation can be resolved so that it does not hinder the development of relations between the United States and the new Egyptian government.”