Nina Hubinet flew to Cairo on 25 May with the aim of spending a week-long vacation in Egypt but, when her passport was checked on arrival, security officials told her that her name was on a blacklist.
They then questioned her about a story she wrote in 2013 about Egypt’s Nubian ethnic minority and about her coverage of the 2011 uprising. They also wanted to known if she planned to see any of the former Tahrir Square protesters she met in 2011. While based in Cairo, she reported for various French-language media including La Croix and Ouest France.
“On what basis does Egypt compile blacklists of unwelcome journalists?” asked Sophie Anmuth, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “What did these Cairo-based foreign correspondents do wrong aside from doing their job as reporters while there? The automatic mistrust of journalists displayed by the Egyptian authorities is very worrying.”
In a Facebook post written after being put on a flight back to Paris, Hubinet made it clear that, while aware of how harshly the Egyptian authorities are currently cracking down on journalists and activists, she had not imagined that they would regard her as a problem, in part because she has not written anything on Egypt since 2014.
The media outlet she reported most for while in Egypt was the French newspaper La Croix. One of her successors as La Croix’s Cairo stringer, fellow French journalist Rémy Pigaglio, was denied entry to Egypt on his return from a vacation in France in May 2016.Bel Trew, a British journalist working for The Times, was expelled in March of this year.
At least 35 journalists are currently imprisoned in connection with their work in Egypt, which is ranked 161st out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.