Egyptian researcher Ismail Alexandrani was stopped and questioned by security forces upon arrival at Hurghada International Airport, according to his spouse Khadeega Gaafar.
Alexandrani, 32, is a socio-political researcher, investigative journalist, and expert in extremists’ and Sinai affairs. He was reportedly detained upon his arrival to Hurghada on a flight from Berlin at 2pm Sunday.
Gaafar wrote several tweets about the incident and confirmed her comments to Daily News Egypt on Monday. She said stopping and questioning Alexandrani in the airport was a routine action due to his repeated trips.
“Any Egyptian who returns to Egypt will be questioned if he travels to countries that require security permit,” Gaafar said.
Alexandrani, however, was later moved to the Homeland Security building in Hurghada, according to his wife. “The latest information I got was that he was detained because his name is placed on the arrivals list,” Gaafar said.
Security officials however could not be reached for confirmation.
The prominent researcher was detained after the Egyptian embassy in Berlin issued a memorandum against him, according to Gaafar. Airport officials did not know about the memorandum until Monday morning.
“An arrest warrant was issued by the Egyptian embassy in Germany, stating that he is accused of collaborating with human rights organisations,” Gaafar said.
Alexandrani has been working as a researcher at Paris-based Arab Reform Initiative since 2013. He won the Open Eye-Hany Darweesh Award for an exceptional essay in 2014. Earlier this year, his chapter “Violence in Sinai: the State’s War on Society and Producing Terrorism” was published in the book “l’Egypte en revolution(s)”.
A hashtag calling for the release of Alexandrani went viral on social media websites, with activists and friends of the detained researcher expressing their support for him and criticising security forces.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) issued a statement on Monday condemning the arrest of Alexandrani.”His legal position has not been revealed since yesterday,” the statement read.
The statement considered the arrest and detention of Alexandrani “a clear violation of Article 45 of the constitution”, which prohibits the arrest of any citizen without judicial authorisation. The authorities are also obliged to inform anyone arrested of the reasons behind their arrest, as well as allowing them to communicate with their lawyers and family.
The network demanded the unconditional release of Alexandrani and requested that the authorities launch an investigation with whoever was responsible for restricting Alexandrani’s freedom.
No official statement was issued from the Egyptian embassy in Germany or the Ministry of Interior regarding Alexandrani’s case.