Egyptian researcher Ismail Alexandrani, who was detained on his return from Berlin on Sunday, is currently being questioned by security officials in Cairo, according to his wife Khadeega Gaafar.
Alexandrani, 32, a socio-political researcher, investigative journalist and expert in Islamic extremism, was held for questioning at Hurghada International Airport after his return from Germany.
On Tuesday, he was moved to the Supreme State Security Prosecution building in Cairo, where he is being questioned.
Human rights lawyer Khaled Ali is attending Alexandrani’s interviews with security personnel, according to Gaafar.
“The latest information I got was that he was detained because his name was placed on the arrivals list. An arrest warrant was issued by the Egyptian embassy in Germany, stating that he is accused of collaborating with human rights organisations,” Gaafar said on Monday.
Several commentators and human rights activists have claimed that Alexandrani’s research, and his critical opinion of the government, were the reason behind his detention.
In October, Alexandrani was among several experts from different countries invited to attend a policy workshop held by the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin titled “Deconstructing Islamist Terrorism in Egypt”.
The workshop focused on the reasons behind the re-emergence of terrorism in Egypt, the aims of the active militant groups, and the effectiveness of the Egyptian state in countering their threat.
Abdel-Rahman Ayyash, an Egyptian researcher and journalist, was among the guests invited to the workshop.
“One day before the workshop, the German organisers got in touch with us and said there was a problem. The Egyptian embassy in Berlin expressed their dismay to the organisers over the attendance of some of the people, saying all the attendees are from the Muslim Brotherhood,” Ayyash wrote on his Facebook account.
The Egyptian ambassador in Berlin called on the German Foreign Ministry to confirm his objection, according to Ayyash. “The organisers contacted the Egyptian guests and told them they would not be able to ensure the protection of the Egyptian attendees and that they might face prosecution when they returned to Egypt,” Ayyash added.
Daily News Egypt tried to reach Egypt’s ambassador to Berlin, Badr Abdel Atty, for confirmation, but he was not available.
Gamal Eid, director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, said they still do not have any information about Alexandrani’s situation.
“I think that the main reason behind his arrest is that he is a researcher who is open about his criticism of the current situation, and the government does not want any dissenting voices, so they arrest the criticisers to silence them,” said Eid.
The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights issued a statement condemning the detention of Alexandrani and calling for his immediate release.
“This incident is a continuation of the authorities’ prosecution of journalists and opinion makers, which contradicts all rights and international standards that protect the freedom of press and expression, in addition to violating the Egyptian constitution,” the statement read.
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)”.