The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemned on Sunday the “return to State Security’s practices of … stopping and investigating passengers at the airport.”
Mohamed Adel and Ramy Al-Sayed, 6 April Youth Movement leading members, were stopped and questioned at the airport for three hours upon their return from Bulgaria. The movement members were attending a conference on the Arab revolutions in Sofia; they were representing 6 April.
Upon their arrival at Cairo International Airport, Adel said they were stopped and prevented from entering.
“We told them the Prosecutor General didn’t issue a travel ban against us,” Adel said. When asking for the reason for being stopped, Adel said they were told the authorities were looking for suspects with similar names.
ANHRI said in its Sunday statement that only the Prosecutor General is entitled to issue decisions of referring citizens to investigation or putting them on travel-watch lists. It added that Adel and Al-Sayed were questioned “without just cause”.
While they waited at the airport for three hours, Adel said he and Al-Sayed were asked about the reason for their trip.
“They asked us why we are such frequent travellers,” Adel said.
After they were allowed to go home, Adel claimed they discovered their electronic equipment were switched on and searched. He said his phone’s battery was dead when he arrived at the airport; he opened it at home to realise that the battery had been charged. Adel also claimed copies of the data stored on their equipments were made, even though they were password-protected.
ANHRI said it was Homeland Security (formerly known as State Security) officers who searched Adel’s and Al-Sayed’s equipment. The organisation stated that such actions show that the Ministry of Interior continues to disregard the laws. It called on Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat to order “serious investigation into such violations”, so that they do not become frequent.
Adel said he intends to file a complaint regarding the incident.
“This incident shows the return of the political police, known as State Security, to its worst tactics of chasing, abusing and violating the privacy of activists,” ANHRI’s statement read. “It appears that Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim is resurrecting the tools of former Interior Minister Habib Al-Adly.”
Al-Adly was Minister of Interior during the last decade of ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s time in power.
The Ministry of Interior was unavailable for comment.