American Hostage Held

FAR EAST CORRESPONDENT — With cropped hair, lightweight combat boots and body armor, the Egyptian thugs understood how clearly they made their point by simply fingering the triggers of their AK-47s. The American who stood nearby probably found a long afternoon shadow to watch them from as they ransacked his Cairo office.

The American is a lean 36-year-old with a bit of twinkle in his eye. He is the country director for the International Republican Institute (IRI), a U.S.-funded pro-democracy organization that has monitored Egypt’s ongoing parliamentary elections. His name is Sam LaHood and he happens to be Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s son. He also happens to be a friend of mine.

In late December the thugs, accompanied by Egyptian officials, stormed IRI and 17 other pro-democracy and human rights organizations. They claimed Egypt would not tolerate foreign interference in its affairs. At Sam’s office, which they closed, they confiscated documents and computers and sealed the front door with wax. Dan Boylan reports for the Boston Herald.

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Luke Hunt is a foreign correspondent, author and occasional photographer who has covered much of Asia fr the last 30 years.

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