February 2011: Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham met with International Republican Institute democracy workers John Tomlaszewski and Sam LaHood while they sought refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo while facing trial in Egypt.
The pressure to detain democracy workers in Egypt was the work of remnants from former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, but the calls for Americans’ heads by protesters outside the courthouse in Cairo show the country has a long way to go before achieving true democracy, said one of those Americans formerly trapped there.
John Tomaszewski, the deputy program director for the International Republican Institute in Egypt, said that while the mission of groups like the IRI and other nongovernmental organizations is to promote democracy, Egyptian demonstrators wanted to swap one of the most notorious terrorists in U.S. federal custody in exchange for lifting a travel ban imposed on the Americans.
“There’s this longstanding demonstration camp, but the day of the trial this group of individuals had demonstrated outside of the courtroom — essentially saying ridiculous things like ‘trade the Americans for the blind sheik.’ And then hang the Egyptians who were accused, and this is how we’ll deal with this problem,” he told Fox News exclusively