Pleasant Hill city clerk Nici Wilson (center) holds an award from the Missouri City Clerks & Finance Officers Association naming her as Missouri’s 2015 City Clerk of the Year. Pictured with her at the March 11 MOCCFOA banquet in Columbia are (from left) Pleasant Hill police chief Robert Driscoll, city administrator Mark Randall, public works director Bob Kee, Mayor John VanGorkom, her husband Todd Wilson, mother-in-law Becky Wilson, father-in-law Terry Wilson and city finance director and assistant city administrator Shelby Teufel. Nici joined City Hall in 2002 and was named city clerk in 2009.
Separated from family
Egyptians detain dad for 6 years
..John Forsythe simply wants to come home. The Pleasant Hill native finds himself trapped in Egypt, separated from his daughter and unable to return to the United States. ..He tells the Times that he has been largely ignored by the U.S. State Department and his friends and family are mounting a campaign to allow him to leave Egypt and reunite with his 6-year-old daughter. ..A 1982 Pleasant Hill High School graduate, the 50-yearold Forsythe was stranded in Egypt six years ago in the aftermath of that nation’s revolution and the political unrest that followed. ..He was living with his family in Hurghada, Egypt, and had started a business setting up Internet and data infrastructure for the global tourism sector operating in Egypt. ..But after he refused to work with what he thought were shady businessmen, he found himself arrested and accused of everything from owning illegal IT equipment to being a spy for the CIA. ..His equipment was confiscated and he was jailed for a time. The spying charge was eventually dismissed, but the charge for operating an illegal business remained. ..Forsythe said when it became clear that trouble was brewing in Egypt, he sent his wife and daughter away to safety, but was unable to follow because of a travel ban imposed by the Egyptian government. ..Even when the U.S. State Department recommended that Americans leave Egypt for their own safety in 2011, John was forced to stay and lay low. ..He moved to Cairo to be better placed to plead his innocence in court and spent the next six years and all of his savings fighting to clear his name. ..Forsythe fled Cairo after anti-American sentiment reached a fever pitch in the run-up to Egypt’s second revolution in June of 2013. Since then, he has been living on the charity of friends in the relatively safe tourist resort town of Hurghada. ..“I had to leave Cairo in a hurry because the atmosphere changed and people were shouting anti-American prop aganda in the streets,” he says. “Thank God for my friends in Hurghada who have kept a roof over my head and food in my stomach for the last two years.” Forsythe was ultimately found not guilty of the charges brought against him by the Egyptian government, but was still ordered to pay a fine and court costs totalling 240,100 Egyptian pounds or about $31,000 in U.S. currency. ..Now, the Egyptian authorities will not give Forsythe permission to work or leave the country. He is not in prison, but is under virtual house arrest and is unable to make a living or earn the money he needs to pay his fine. ..He is on a “no fly” list and can’t get the documentation he needs to leave the country. Forsythe says the hardest part of the ordeal is being separated from his daughter, Maya. She has been allowed to visit him in Egypt and he talks to her every day on Skype, but that’s the closest thing he can get to being part of her life. ..“There is nothing worse than separating a father and daughter,” he says. “I think of her always and I can’t believe I’m missing the most important years of her life. It tears me up when I think about it. I need to be there with her.” ..Forsythe says the U.S. State Department has been unwilling to intervene on his behalf because it does not interfere in the judicial processes of sovereign nations. As a result, Forsythe’s friends and family have decided to mount a campaign to raise awareness of his plight and raise the money he needs to pay his fine and leave the country. ..To learn more about Forsythe’s campaign to be allowed to leave Egypt, go to Reunite John & Maya on Facebook.