The parents of two German-Egyptian nationals detained in Egypt in recent weeks have denied any links between their sons and militant groups operating in North Sinai.
Last week, the German Foreign Ministry confirmed the separate disappearances of two men who were visiting Egypt. Egyptian officials later informed the German Embassy in Cairo that Isa al-Sabbagh and Mahmoud Abdel Aziz were being held in police custody on “suspicions of terrorism.”
Abdel Aziz was deported on Friday, after renouncing his Egyptian citizenship, a condition that was reportedly set for his release by Egyptian authorities. The details of Sabbagh’s detention remain unknown.
Sabbagh’s father, Mohamed, denied that his son had any political or militant affiliations, telling Mada Masr on Sunday that his son was intending to visit his uncle in Sinai when he left to Egypt from Germany.
Sabbagh, an 18-year-old high school student in Giessen, was last heard from on December 17, when he communicated with his father before boarding a flight from Frankfurt to Luxor. He was then detained by Egyptian authorities as he attempted to board a domestic flight from Luxor to Cairo, where his uncle was waiting for him, according to the father.
Mohamed al-Sabbagh previously told Mada Masr that the German Foreign Ministry contacted him last week to say that Egyptian authorities had informed the German Embassy in Cairo that his son was being held by police for “suspicion of terrorism,” adding that the Foreign Ministry advised him to assign a lawyer to follow the matter.
Sabbagh’s father explained that the family owns a holiday property in the South Sinai resort city of Taba, which they frequent often, and that the family is familiar with security personnel stationed in checkpoints along the way from Cairo to Sinai.
Sabbagh’s father was heading from Germany to Cairo on Sunday with the intention of visiting his son in detention, he told Mada Masr.
Meanwhile, Abdel Aziz, another German-Egyptian citizen who was arrested by Egyptian authorities on December 27 upon his arrival in Cairo, was deported to Germany on Friday after he renounced his Egyptian citizenship, a request made by Egyptian authorities in order to process his release.
Abdel Aziz, a 23-year-old from Goettingen who is studying in Saudi Arabia, arrived at Cairo International Airport with his brother on a flight from Medina on December 27. Airport authorities detained Abdel Aziz but allowed his brother to enter the country, according to the German Foreign Ministry.
In a statement obtained by Mada Masr, Abdel Aziz claimed that he was coerced to confess affiliation with the Islamic State in a video recorded by Egyptian authorities. Abdel Aziz has denied the statements he made in the alleged recording, which has not been released.
London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported on Sunday that Germany was looking into the accusations made by Egyptian authorities that Abdel Aziz had been attempting to join the Islamic State in Sinai.
Abdel Aziz’s father, Amr Abdel Aziz, previously told Mada Masr that his son is not politically active in any way.