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U.S. has not yet seen charges against Americans held in Egypt

By Jill Dougherty, CNN
updated 1:34 PM EST, Thu February 9, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Egypt has not yet sent the document listing the charges against the Americans
  • The State Department says 16 Americans are among 43 facing trial
  • Egypt is cracking down on foreign organizations, blaming them for ongoing unrest

(CNN) -- The State Department said Thursday it has not received the official document from an Egyptian magistrate laying out charges against the staff of U.S. and international democracy-building groups.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland had said Wednesday the document had been delivered, but on Thursday she called that a "miscommunication."

"We were yesterday expecting to see the charging document," she told reporters. "In fact, the situation is -- I talked with our lawyers on the ground there about an hour ago -- the investigative magistrate has forwarded the charging document to the public prosecutor, at least that's what he understands, but we have not seen it.

"The embassy has not seen it and, in fact, the attorneys working with the affected Americans and their organizations have not seen it. So we are asking for it and we are still waiting for it.

"So we haven't been able to get off square one in terms of evaluating it."

Wednesday Nuland said the department had received an approximately 175-page document that was being translated from the Arabic and studied by the Department's lawyers.

She said Thursday there was a "miscommunication between us here and our folks in Cairo. They were expecting to see it and they did not."

Egyptian authorities announced this week that 43 foreigners working for civil society organizations will face prosecution. That includes 16 Americans, according to the State Department. Among them is Sam LaHood, the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Egyptian officials have blamed ongoing unrest in their country on foreign interference. Authorities carried out 17 raids on the offices of 10 organizations, including the U.S.-based Freedom House, National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute.

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