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LaHood’s Son Sentenced to Jail by Egyptian Court

Ray LaHood and Sam LaHood

Ray LaHood, second from left, being sworn in as Transportation Secretary, Friday, Jan. 23,2009, during a ceremony at the Transportation Department in Washington. From left are, his son Sam, LaHood, his wife Kathy, Linda Washington, assistant secretary for Administration, and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill. (AP Photo/Transportation Department)

The son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood of Peoria has been sentenced to a five-year jail term by an Egyptian court.

Sam LaHood is one of 43 nonprofit workers sentenced for illegally using foreign funds to foment unrest in the country

Among the defendants, 27 received five-year jail terms. Another five received two years and 11 got one year.  At least 16 of them were Americans.

The case, which stems from the roughly 17 months of military rule that followed the ouster of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, has led to a period of tension in U.S.-Egyptian relations, with Washington warning that, unless resolved, the case could lead to the loss of American aid.

Egypt receives more than $1 billion in military aid and $250 million in economic aid from the United States.

The work and funding of nonprofit groups have consistently been a bone of contention between them and authorities trying to control them. Last week, the New York-based Human Rights Watch and 40 Egyptian rights groups said an Egyptian draft law regulating non-governmental organizations would restrict the funding and operation of independent groups.

The contentious bill, proposed by Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and currently under debate by the country's interim legislature, would allow the state to control nonprofits' activities as well as their domestic and international funding, HRW said. The current form of the bill is a serious regression from earlier versions, it added.

There was no comment immediately available from Washington on Tuesday's ruling.

Sam LaHood, whose father served as an Illinois congressman, also has a brother in the Illinois state Senate.