Qatari diplomat 'deported from Egypt over cannabis find'

Qatari diplomat 'deported from Egypt over cannabis find'
2 min read
20 August, 2015
EgyptAir's head of security says substance was discovered during routine security search at Cairo airport, with reports diplomat was then expelled to Athens.
EgyptAir said the security of its planes was a national concern [Getty]
Egypt's airport authorities expelled a Qatari diplomat after finding nine grams of cannabis during a pre-boarding search at Cairo airport, it has been reported.

According to news reports in Egypt, the authorities briefly held the unnamed diplomat on Tuesday, before expelling them to Athens after an apology and appeal from the Qatari embassy to the Egyptian foreign ministry.

"The policeman operating the X-ray machine spotted a dark substance in a pack of cigarettes and he immediately pulled the passenger aside and discovered the cannabis," said EgyptAir's head of security, Tariq Zaki, on a local satellite station.

"The security of EgyptAir's planes are a matter of national security," Zaki added.

Following the incident, television presenter Jaber al-Qarmouti appealed for calm and called on the Egyptian media not to exploit the incident to prevent a further escalation in tensions between the two countries.

Diplomats are afforded some immunity from searches. Document and items contained in a marked "diplomatic bag" are exempt from scrutiny but personal belongings can be searched by aviation security. Diplomats are immune from prosecution in the host country but can be expelled.

Qatari-Egyptian relations soured after former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was ousted in a military coup and a harsh crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt accuses Qatar of supporting the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt's authorities have also accused Qatari network Al Jazeera of being biased in favour of the Brotherhood, imprisoning several of the Doha-based network's journalists for more than a year, accusing them of working to undermine the Egyptian state.