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Plane carrying foreign NGO workers leaves Egypt

Foreign NGO workers, previously banned from leaving Egypt, head to Cyprus in a surprise twist to the ongoing political row

Ahram Online, Thursday 1 Mar 2012
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A plane carrying 17 foreign NGO workers took off for Cyprus at 7pm (17:00 GMT) Thursday after a travel ban was lifted Wednesday evening, according to Ahram's Arabic language portal. Sam LaHood, son of US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, is among the handful of Americans onboard the plane, official news agency MENA reported.

The plane touched down in Cairo shortly after a decision by Egyptian authorities to lift a travel ban preventing foreign nationals involved in the case from leaving the country. Earlier, presiding judges in the case abruptly recused themselves for "reasons of discomfort."

Sixteen US nationals, along with a number of other foreign and Egyptian civil society workers, have been charged by Egyptian authorities with operating in the country without official permission. Some Egyptian officials have gone so far as to accuse them of posing a threat to Egypt's national security.

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