Americans Will Face Criminal Trial in Egypt

U.S. and Egypt relations sour over prosecution of non-profit workers.
3:35 | 02/05/12

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Transcript for Americans Will Face Criminal Trial in Egypt
There is growing tension in a drama involving nineteen Americans who we're told today they could very well face criminal trial in Egypt. They have been ordered not to leave that country and tonight the State Department says it is deeply concerned about the situation. The nineteen Americans who work for agencies were originally invited in to watch democracy take hold in Egypt. Christiane Amanpour is standing by right here with what the US could do about this but first tonight ABC's Alex Marquardt who's been on the -- in Cairo in recent days reporting -- now. On this dramatic turn tonight. While violent protests rage in the streets of Cairo a diplomatic battle has erupted with Egypt -- America's closest Arab allies. Among the ninety Americans to be tried is Sam -- the son of transportation secretary Ray LaHood. Their alleged crime working in Egypt without a license and receiving foreign funds which they've been doing for years with no problem. -- good works of the International Republican Institute which does pro democracy work. Funded by congress today the institute said the prosecution is a politically motivated effort to squash Egypt's growing civil society. What is the ruling military council that took over after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year has repeatedly refused quote. Foreign hands of meddling. Just before New Year's seventeen nongovernmental organizations including IRI -- were rated. Then two weeks ago -- -- and five other Americans were banned from leaving Egypt. We do not believe there is any basis for these investigations. These -- On. The sites that the NGOs operate out of the seizure of their equipment. The military council is facing growing and often violent -- to hand over power faster to a civilian government. The deaths of seven lead toward a soccer game on Thursday sparked clashes for these protesters out -- the -- at the soccer gamers symptomatic of a much bigger issue and that the security vacuum that has developed since president. It Hosni Mubarak stepped down. Crime despite the police presence has vastly diminished and for that they say the military council has got ago. The minute he acknowledged that is why -- And -- it -- doesn't do. I think what that -- -- -- what's clear is that relations between the US and Egypt have never been worse. Risk here is not just that relationship but one and a half billion dollars in American aid for Egypt most of the military now in jeopardy. -- Helped by a court leading us off tonight Alex heard thanks to you want to bring in our global affairs anchor Christiane -- -- now see you here on the set. It's hard to believe that it was a year ago you and I were standing in Cairo watching democracy take all these Americans were part of groups invited in to witness what would follow -- now -- -- accused of stirring -- with what what's going on is -- military government is on depression. Protests in the streets. And -- people as saying that the military is hijacked and revolution when -- under pressure they revert to be tried and tested. Results which is to blame foreigners that they have been naming these American democracy activist for that current. Troubles to just ridiculous but they're falling back an old pattern -- now this is something that happened under President Mubarak as well the minute there was. Florida's there was trouble they blame the foreign is that it up so what -- the US do here to we have leverage huge leverage -- The US is Egypt's biggest -- in the west biggest back of Frankie more than a billion dollars you go straight to the military and that's what has enormous amount to very. This is no way for the egyptians treat -- -- -- America's biggest not another decided to confront people all the administration and the US congress.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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