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Published February 22 2012

Hoeven meets detained Fargo native in Egypt

WASHINGTON – North Dakota’s U.S. senators continue to press Egyptian authorities to release Staci Haag, a Fargo native detained in the country for allegedly supporting unrest.

Haag is one of seven Americans barred from leaving Egypt because of the allegations that she has used foreign funds to back protesters in the country.

Sen. John Hoeven, a Republican, while traveling in the Middle East with a bipartisan delegation of senators, met Monday with Haag at the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, he announced in a news release.

Haag is currently staying at the embassy, according to the Hoeven news release.

The delegation, which also includes Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., met with Egyptian military and government leaders during the Monday visit.

“Our meetings went well and we are guardedly optimistic that the American NGO workers situation will be resolved soon,” Hoeven said in the news release.

Kami Capener, Hoeven’s deputy communications director, said Hoeven is still traveling in the Middle East and will return to the United States by the end of the week.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., has also had recent contact with Haag. He said he called her last week to discuss her situation.

At a recent Senate Budget Committee hearing, Conrad told Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, whose son is among the seven Americans who are prohibited from leaving Egypt, that Haag read him the list of formal charges against her, which he called “farcical.”

Conrad added that he’ll continue to communicate with Egyptian authorities about finding a solution to Haag’s detainment.

“We will be taking additional steps in the days ahead to register our very serious concern about these actions that are absolutely outside the boundaries of the relationships of countries that respect each other,” he said at the hearing.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535

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