Egypt 'expels' former New York Times Cairo bureau chief David Kirkpatrick amid crackdown on journalists

Egypt 'expels' former New York Times Cairo bureau chief David Kirkpatrick amid crackdown on journalists
Egypt on Monday detained and deported former New York Times Cairo Bureau Chief David Kirkpatrick. Egypt is one of the world's biggest jailers of journalists.
3 min read
20 February, 2019
Kirkpatrick was the NYT Cairo bureau chief from 2011 to 2015 [Twitter]

Egypt has expelled the former Cairo bureau chief of the New York Times, making the latest incident in an ongoing campaign against journalist in the country.

Officials detained David Kirkpatrick, the paper’s former Cairo bureau chief, when he attempted to enter the country on Monday, according to a report in NYT.

David Kirkpatrick, who was the New York Times' Cairo bureau chief from 2011 to 2015, was detained upon arrival at Cairo airport on Monday night.

The correspondent was expelled from the country and put onto an EgyptAir flight to London following seven hours of detention, during which he was denied food, water and access to his phone.

Kirkpatrick recently published "Into the Hands of Soldiers," which examines the Egyptian revolution and the subsequent rise to power of Sisi.

"We are deeply disturbed that the government of Egypt detained our correspondent, kept him incommunicado, denied him food or water and refused to allow him into the country," said the newspaper’s international editor in the New York Times.

"Egypt has long been a center of the international press in the Middle East, a role that is now severely threatened."

The Egyptian authorities failed to explain why Kirkpatrick had been deported.

This is not the first time Egypt has expelled a foreign journalist. The Times correspondent Bel Trew, who reported from the country for seven years, was expelled by Egypt in March 2018.

The Egyptian government has arrested tens of journalists and cracked down on independent news outlets since President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi came to power in a military coup in 2013.

Sisi's crackdown on independent journalism affects local journalists more severely, however. At least 25 journalists are currently imprisoned in Egypt, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Although the award-winning photojournalist Shawkan, who has been in prison for five years since the 2013 Rabaa square massacre, is soon to be released from prison, journalists in Egypt live in fear of repercussions for their work. Journalist Ahmed Gamal Ziada has been detained incommunicado since his arrival at Cairo airport on January 30.

Sisi has also been prolific in banning news websites in Egypt. The New Arab, al-Jazeera, independent Egyptian outlet Mada Masr, and Huffington Post are among the outlets Egyptians are unable to access without a VPN.

"Journalists including David Kirkpatrick and Ahmed Gamal Ziada serve the Egyptian and international publics by speaking truth to power and exposing corruption, injustice, and lies," said the Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator of the CPJ, Sherif Mansour.

"Egyptian authorities must free all journalists in custody and allow the media to do its job without fear of imprisonment or harassment."