Blacklisted former Egyptian football star 'free to enter country'

Blacklisted former Egyptian football star 'free to enter country'
2 min read
27 February, 2017
Interior ministry spokesman says Mohamed Aboutrika is free to return to Egypt, despite previous action taken against him.
Fearing arrest, Mohamed Aboutrika did not return to Cairo for his father's funeral [AFP]

Former Egyptian and al-Ahly star Mohammed Aboutrika could have returned to Egypt for his father's funeral without fear of arrest, an interior ministry spokesman claimed on Sunday.

Egypt's government had previously frozen the former footballer's assets after accusing him of financing the Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo accuses of being a "terrorist organisation".

Speaking to Egyptian pro-government newspaper Youm7, General Tareq Atteya said that he had no orders to arrest the Aboutrika on his arrival in Egypt.

"If he had returned to Egypt, he would have been allowed to enter the country like any other Egyptian citizen," Atteya said.

Aboutrika was in Qatar working as a sports pundit when he was informed of his father's death. He did not return to Cairo to attend the burial out of fear of arrest.

In 2015, a government committee froze the assets of the former player for Cairo-based club al-Ahly and Egypt's national team, two years after he retired.

The government accuses him of financing the Muslim Brotherhood, which was classified as a terrorist organisation at the end of 2013.

According to an anti-terror law imposed in 2015 by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, anyone on the country's terror list is subject to a travel ban, with their passport and assets liable to be frozen.

Aboutrika, one of the most successful African footballers of his generation, had publicly endorsed the presidential bid of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi in 2012.