State Dept: Americans take refuge at Cairo embassy

CAIRO (AP) -- Three American democracy advocates barred by Egyptian authorities from leaving the country have sought refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, officials said Monday, as tensions between the two allied nations sharply escalated over a probe into foreign-funded organizations.The unusual step comes amid a row over an Egyptian crackdown on U.S.-funded groups promoting democracy and human rights that could jeopardize more than $1 billion of crucial U.S. aid to Egypt, one of its biggest recipients.The investigation is closely intertwined with Egypt's political turmoil since Hosni Mubarak's fall nearly a year ago. The generals who took power have accused \foreign hands\ of being behind protests against their rule and frequently depict the protesters as receiving foreign funds in a plot to destabilize the country.The White House said it has discussed the situation with Egypt's military authorities and U.S. officials were working to resolve the matter as quickly as possible. But a spokesman was careful to praise Egypt for taking important steps toward transitioning to democracy since Mubarak was ousted.\We've made clear our concerns about this issue and our disappointment that these several citizens are not being allowed to depart Egypt

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