CAIRO: The last of a group of 11 French Islamists detained in Egypt last month on suspicion of involvement with terrorist organizations was deported Sunday, security sources said.
Youri Sorokine flew out of Cairo early Sunday, a security official said on condition of anonymity, and could be released upon his return to France.
“This file of the French detainees is still currently being processed by the Consulate, which will work on a deal between the Egyptians and the French based on a convention between the two countries. Ahmed Fadel, Press Attache at the French Embassy, told The Daily Star Egypt.
The Egyptian Interior Ministry had released a statement last month that they had arrested the nine Frenchmen along with an American, two Belgians and several others from Arab countries for allegedly plotting terrorist attacks in several Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq.
French consular officials were granted access to the French detainees according to French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei as reported by AP. Mattei added “We are in contact with the Egyptian authorities.
The Interior Ministry official refused to comment on the American citizen who was also arrested according to AP. Egyptian authorities had refused US consular officials’ request to meet the detainee yet had allowed French consular officials to visit the French detainees.
Ten other French Islamists detained by the Egyptian security services in late November have already been deported after being interrogated in Cairo.
Two Belgians, one American as well as Syrian, Tunisian and Egyptian nationals were arrested as part of the same sweep, which targeted Salafi students organizations in Cairo and the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.
Security sources said Sorokine appeared to be the leader of the group of fundamentalists, all of them in their 20s and in Egypt to study Arabic and Islam. The Egyptian interior ministry accused the group of having ties with foreign terrorist organizations and being involved in recruiting militants to wage jihad (holy war) in Iraq. Foreign security sources suggested however there was no immediately tangible evidence the group was involved in terrorist activities and all of them were released after being debriefed in France.
The US State Department had expressed disapproval of the Egyptian government’s decision to prevent US consul officials access to an American citizen being held under suspicion of plotting terrorist attacks.
State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said “That’s not an acceptable standard, as reported by AP, but admitted that a time frame for consular access is not specified under the Vienna Convention which governs such access to a citizen arrested on foreign soil.
Judicial Advisor Mohammed El Naggar previously confirmed to The Daily Star Egypt that the government was within its rights to delay consular access.
“They have the right to deny access, he said, “this is a matter of state security and that takes precedence. With additional reporting by The Daily Star Egypt staff writer Abdel-Rahman Hussein.