Their departure came after days of intense behind-the-scenes negotiations between U.S. and Egyptian officials trying to resolve the worst crisis between the two countries in decades.
But it raised an outcry at home against the military, which took power in Egypt after the ouster a year ago of President Hosni Mubarak.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which controls nearly half of seats in parliament and has emerged as the strongest political group since Mubarak’s fall, said there was “clear interference’’ in Egypt’s domestic affairs and in the work of the judiciary.
The Brotherhood’s spokesman, Mahmoud Ghozlan, said that he believes the United States pressured Egypt’s ruling military council to ensure the Americans return home before the case is concluded and the judicial process runs its course.
“The former regime was subservient to the United States. Until now the military council cannot understand that there was a revolution and continues the same policies of answering to Washington,’’ Ghozlan told The Associated Press.
The dispute is rooted in a crackdown by Egyptian officials on pro-democracy and human rights groups, including four U.S.-based ones. In December, Egyptian security raided offices a number of the groups, including four American ones — the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, Freedom House and a group that trains journalists. Officials said the groups were suspected of accepting foreign funds to stir up unrest.
Sixteen Americans from the groups, along with 27 others — including Egyptian, Palestinian, German, Norwegian and Serb nationals — were charged in the case and put on trial. Activists denounced the move as part of a wider government crackdown against those critical of the military’s rule. Nine of the Americans, who had not been put under a travel ban, had already left the country. The rest were allowed to leave Thursday after the U.S. posted almost $5 million in bail. Of the seven Americans who had been barred from travel, one stayed behind voluntarily.