CAIRO: An Australian has been arrested in Egypt for allegedly trying to smuggle a 2,000-year-old mummified cat and other antiquities out in his suitcase, a security official said on Thursday.
The man was arrested on Wednesday trying to board a plane to Bangkok, the Cairo airport official said, after a mummified cat and ibis were found in his bags along with 19 religious figurines, including of the gods Horus and Thoth.
Australia s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that a 61-year-old man had been arrested and detained in the Egyptian capital.
The man was receiving consular support while in detention but had yet to be charged with any offence, a spokeswoman said.
The man is a teacher who had wrapped the more than 2,000-year-old artefacts as gift souvenirs, Egyptian media reported. It was not immediately clear how the man had obtained the objects.
Under Egyptian law, only reproductions of antiquities can be exported, and those who try to smuggle genuine artefacts out of the country face stiff penalties including up to 15 years in jail.
Egypt has threatened to no longer cooperate with museums around the world that fail to return stolen antiquities.
Another unlucky traveler in Cairo s airport was stopped Wednesday with 56 cartridges, 20 pieces of live ammunition and an old bayonet that dates back to World War II.
A security official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the Canadian passenger, who was heading to Switzerland, was let free after the materials were confiscated.
The 26-year old teacher told the authorities he picked up the ammunition in the Egyptian north coast town El Alamein, the site of one of the most decisive battles in World War II. He said he was unaware transporting the ammunition would be illegal. -Agencies.