A French reporter was deported by Egypt’s airport authorities on Wednesday, just one day after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met with a French parliamentary delegation that included the president of the Egyptian-French Friendship Group, Philippe Folliot.
Rémy Pigaglio was interrogated at Cairo International Airport and subsequently deported on Tuesday, which was confirmed by his employers on Wednesday.
Although Pigaglio was reportedly stopped on Monday while entering Egypt, it was not until the next day that he was put onboard a plane headed to France. Pigaglio, who has worked as a correspondent in Egypt for two years, was expelled on Tuesday night after being detained at the airport as he was returning from vacation, according to his employer, La Croix.
Quoting the spokesperson of the French foreign affairs ministry Romain Nadal, La Croix reported: “France regrets this decision by the Egyptian authorities.” The report further stated that minister Jean-Marc Aryault raised the issue with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry. Attempts to intervene in the matter made by the French embassy in Cairo remained unsuccessful.
The foreign press centre in Egypt, where foreign correspondents should register in order to legally work as a journalist in the country, confirmed to Daily News Egypt that the problem started on Monday. “We were contacted by the authorities regarding the validity of the journalist’s registration,” a spokesperson said. However, he said Pigaglio was not listed in the centre’s records.
The incident sparked criticism from France, notably because Egypt has not made official declarations regarding the situation. The Foreign Ministry spokesperson was not available for comment at the time of print.
According to director of La Croix Guillaume Goubert, Pigaglio spent one night in a detention cell and was then deported for no apparent reason as his papers were valid. Goubert hinted at intervention by intelligence services, The Liberation reported.
On the other hand, Pigaglio spoke to La Croix before boarding, reportedly denying the confiscation of his passport, mistreatment, or any interrogation taking place. He said he was not clear on why he was being deported or banned from Egypt.
French correspondents in Egypt expressed their discontent in a statement released on Wednesday, which read: “the growing repression exerted by the authorities on Egyptian and foreign media alike is unacceptable. We extend our deepest solidarity to our colleague who is unjustly forbidden from doing his job. We demand Egyptian authorities provide an explanation on why this decision was taken.”
The repressions mentioned by the statement included “surveillance, intimidation, deportation, and detention”. Reports on press freedom on Egypt have been degrading, topped by an unprecedented security assault on the Press Syndicate in May.