Employee of Cairo rights NGO turned away from airport due to travel ban

Ahram Online , Friday 27 May 2016

The activist said he could be banned from travel based on investigations into his employer, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, on charges of receiving foreign funding illegally

An Egyptian rights campaigner who works for the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said he was told at Cairo's international airport on Thursday that he had been banned from travel by a judicial order, in one of the latest cases of activists who have been sent home from the airport after trying to leave the country.

Mohamed Zaree, who is office director for the rights NGO, told Ahram Online he was intending to travel to Tunisia for a workshop, but airport officials informed him he was banned from travel, handed him back his passport, and unloaded his checked-in luggage.

"I requested the reasons behind this travel ban, but airport authorities didn't know the details of the case; they only know I'm banned," he said.

He said that he has not been summoned for questioning by the prosecution on any charges and was not aware that he had been issued with a travel ban.

However, the human rights activist said he thought he may have been banned based on current court case number 173, an investigation into NGOs that have allegedly broken the country's laws, as the institute is named in the case.

The case was opened in 2011 after a police report accused a number of Egyptian activists and rights organisations of receiving illegal foreign funding.

The case did not lead to prosecutions in 2011 and became dormant, but resurfaced several months ago as an open investigation.

Also being investigated in the case are Hossam Bahgat, an investigative journalist and founder in 2004 of the Egyptian Initiative for Personnel Rights, and Gamal Eid, a lawyer and founder, also in 2004, of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information. Both have been banned from travel.

A gag order was imposed on media in relation to the case.

Zaree told Ahram Online that he won't challenge the travel ban as many others before him had done so but their legal appeals were turned down.

Short link: