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Egyptian-German researcher Atef Botros banned from entering Egypt

Security officials at Cairo International Airport prevented researcher and academic Atef Botros from entering Egypt on Friday, claiming they were acting on information received from the Egyptian embassy in Berlin, the privately owned Al-Tahrir newspaper reported.

Sherif Botros, Atef’s brother, told Mada Masr that Atef was released on Saturday after the German embassy in Cairo intervened, but is still banned from entering the country.

Atef, an assistant professor at Philipp University of Marburg in Germany, was interrogated for hours without water, his brother reported, and was detained because he is one of the founders of Mayadin Al-Tahrir, a German-Egyptian NGO founded after the revolution.

The NGO is being targeted by security forces because of its anti-regime stance, Sherif clarified.

Atef is on the board of directors of Mayadin al-Tahrir, which organizes outreach programs for marginalized communities in Egypt and public events about Egyptian art and culture in Germany. Mayadin Al-Tahrir has not yet released a statement regarding Atef’s detention or the ban on him entering Egypt, and was unavailable for comment at the time of publishing.

This is not the first time that academics have been prevented from either entering or leaving Egypt. In a similar case, the Egyptian embassy in Berlin sent information to Hurghada Airport that resulted in the arrest and detenion of journalist and researcher Ismail Alexandrani.

Alexandrani has since been accused of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and disseminating false information. 

In early January, well-known Tunisian writer and academic Amel Grami was also prevented from entering Egypt through Cairo Airport, even though she had been invited to Egypt by the state-owned Alexandria Library to speak at a conference. Similarly to Botros, Grami was detained and questioned for 14 hours before she was deported

In August 2014, two senior members of the international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) were prevented from entering Egypt and deported via Cairo Airport.

There have also been several cases of travel bans against Egyptians preventing them from leaving the country. In November, 2015 HRW reported that dozens of Egyptians face illegal travel bans that are virtually impossible to lift. In 2015, the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) reported that academics are among those most likely to be banned from travel.