The German embassy in Cairo said Egyptian authorities have confirmed that a dual German-Egyptian citizen whose whereabouts have been unknown since December 27 is being held in custody, the man’s father told Mada Masr on Wednesday.
Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, 23, arrived at Cairo International Airport with his brother on a flight from Saudi Arabia on December 27. Airport authorities detained Abdel Aziz, only allowing his brother to enter the country, according to the German Foreign Ministry.
The embassy told Abdel Aziz’s father that he will be released and deported to Germany on the condition that he agrees to renounce his Egyptian citizenship.
The German Foreign Ministry had confirmed the disappearance of two German-Egyptian dual citizens in Egypt in unrelated cases, according to a Deutsche Welle report published Monday.
The other German citizen, Isa al-Sabbagh, 18, was scheduled to board a domestic flight from Luxor to Cairo on December 17, but his family have been unable to contact him or determine his whereabouts since.
The German Foreign Ministry spokesperson said they were taking both cases “very seriously.”
Abdel Aziz’s father told Mada Masr on Tuesday that his son travelled from Saudi Arabia to Egypt on flight MS 678 with his brother to visit their grandfather. Upon their arrival in Cairo, airport authorities told his brother that Abdel Aziz would not be allowed to enter and would have to return to Saudi Arabia. His whereabouts remained unknown until Wednesday.
The father, who is Egyptian, explained that his son’s mother is German and that Abdel Aziz is a dual German-Egypt citizen who resides in Goettingen. Abdel Aziz came to Egypt in 2014 to study at Al-Azhar University, the father said, but was unable to leave because he remained in the country for more than six months, so authorities demanded that he resolve his compulsory military conscription status before traveling. He was forced to remain in the country for months and had several appointments with relevant security agencies to settle the matter.
Despite the German Foreign Ministry’s statement that they consider both cases to be serious, Abdel Aziz’s father accused the German Embassy in Cairo of negligence, saying that it twice refused to allow Abdel Aziz’s brother to enter the embassy, adding that the embassy was previously told by Egyptian authorities that Abdel Aziz did not arrive in Egypt on that day.
He stressed that his son is not politically active or even aware of the current political situation in Egypt. He told Mada Masr that he was relieved at the news of Abdel Aziz’s whereabouts and was looking forward to his release and deportation to Germany.
He also denied that there was any relation between his son’s disappearance and the disappearance of Sabbagh, who arrived in Egypt 10 days earlier.
The father of Sabbagh, who is also a German-Egyptian dual national and who resides in Giessen, told Mada Masr that the German Embassy in Cairo informed him that it was in constant communication with Egyptian authorities but had not been able to determine his whereabouts.
The last time Sabbagh’s father was in contact with his son was on December 17, before Sabbagh boarded a flight from Frankfurt to Luxor, he told Mada Masr. Sabbagh’s father added that a message that he had sent his son appeared as having been read after the flight landed in Luxor, but Sabbagh did not respond to it.
Sabbagh and his siblings have traveled often to Egypt from Germany in recent years, his father added, saying that this was the first time that there had been an issue. He clarified that his son was not politically active in any way.
Human Rights Watch accused Egyptian authorities in October 2018 of disappearing and torturing an American-Egyptian citizen for four months before he appeared at a military prosecutor’s office on charges related to joining the Province of Sinai, the Islamic State-affiliate in Egypt, last May.
In January 2018, Egyptian authorities arrested Hazem Hamouda, an Australian-Egyptian citizen upon his arrival to Cairo International Airport on the seventh anniversary of the 2011 revolution. Hamouda was subsequently added as a defendant to Case 977/2017, in which he faces charges of spreading false news and supporting a terrorist organization, along with a number of politicians, activists and journalists.
A number of human rights organizations, as well as the European Parliament, have accused Egyptian authorities of forcibly disappearing political prisoners, an allegation repeatedly denied by the Egyptian government.
This piece has been updated since it was first published to include information from Isa Sabbagh’s father.