Babylon & Beyond

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EGYPT: Authorities detain and deport American blogger

September 6, 2009 |  3:37 pm


Egyptian authorities briefly detained an American journalist at Cairo International Airport on Thursday before barring him from entering the country, without stating a reason.

Travis Randall had been living in Cairo for the last 2 1/2 years, working as a freelance writer and an environmental consultant. He was stopped by authorities upon his return from the United States and was told that his name was on a list of people banned from entering Egypt.

The 27-year-old Denver native was taken to a cell where he spent 12 hours before being placed on a flight heading to London.

"It's pretty weird to be deported and no one gives you a reason. I'm basically going to stay in London and figure out what happened, figure out if [Egyptian authorities] could tell me why," Randall told reporters in London.

His laptop and phone were taken from him during his incarceration and returned only upon his departure, he said.

Meanwhile, a security source who spoke to Al Sherouk newspaper on condition of anonymity said Randall was deported for taking part in illegal political activitives in Egypt through his personal blog.

Randall was briefly detained in February for taking part in a small protest against the Egyptian-Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Another unanimous source at the Cairo airport said people involved in political activities related to Palestinians are often denied entry to Egypt.

The Egyptian government has earned a reputation for hassling online political activists, including bloggers Karim Amer, Mosaad Abu Fagr, Ahmed Khalili, Ahmed Abu Doma and many others who were detained for voicing their views over the last three years.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: A protest against the Gaza blockade. Credit: Reuters