Two journalists arrested on arrival at Cairo airport
Two journalists have been detained on landing at Cairo airport in the past few weeks. One, a US reporter, was denied entry and put on a flight back to Europe. The other, an Egyptian photojournalist, was imprisoned. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns these latest examples of the Egyptian regime’s persecution of the media.
David Kirkpatrick, a New York Times reporter who was the newspaper’s Cairo bureau chief from 2011 to 2015, spent seven hours being held incommunicado at the airport on 18 February before being expelled.
He is the author of a recent book entitled “Into the hands of soldiers” about the 2013 military coup that brought Gen. Sisi to power in Egypt. Last year, he covered the very sensitive subject of relations between Egypt and Israel.
The Egyptian photojournalist Ahmed Gamal Zyada was arrested by Cairo airport security on his return from a long stay in Tunisia on 29 January. His family then spent two weeks without knowing where he was being held and without any official confirmation that he had been detained.
He is accused of spreading false information on social networks, a charge that is constantly used in Egypt to silence journalists who contradict the official version of events. He previously spent 16 months in prison, from 2013 to 2015, on similar charges before being acquitted.
“What is Egypt afraid of when it prevents foreign journalists from returning to the country and arrests returning Egyptian journalists?” RSF’s Middle East desk said. “More than 30 journalists are currently in prison in Egypt just for doing their job as reporters. We call on the Egyptian authorities to stop this persecution and to free the imprisoned journalists.”
Egypt is ranked 161st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.