Egypt Expels Former New York Times' Cairo Bureau Chief

In latest move in the country's crackdown on the media, David Kirkpatrick was arrested in Cairo airport and sent back to London, with authorities providing no explanation

File photo: Tourists wait for their flight at Cairo International Airport in Egypt, April 21, 2008.
Amr Nabil/AP

The New York Times said on Tuesday that Egyptian authorities denied entry to one of its correspondents and sent him back to London after holding him for hours.

In latest move in the country's crackdown on free speech and the media, the newspaper said that former Cairo bureau chief David Kirkpatrick was arrested late Monday after arriving at Cairo International Airport.

Hours later, Kirkpatrick's phone was confiscated and he was held without food or water for seven hours, it added.

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"On Tuesday morning, Egyptian officials escorted him onto an EgyptAir flight back to London," the paper said.

His passport was held by an official until the plane landed at Heathrow Airport.

The Egyptian authorities gave no explanation for their actions. 

Sam Werberg, a spokesman for the United States Embassy in Cairo, was quoted by the newspaper as expressing concern regarding "the unexplained refusal of entry to Egypt of a U.S. citizen."

"We have raised our concerns with Egyptian officials," the spokesman said.

The paper said that the move against Kirkpatrick "is an escalation of a severe crackdown against the news media under Egypt's strongman leader, President Abdel-Fattah [al-Sissi]."

Kirkpatrick, 48, was Cairo bureau chief for The New York Times from 2011 to 2015 and is the author of a recent book on Egypt, "Into the Hands of the Soldiers."

Egypt has seen a crackdown on freedom on expression since al-Sissi came to power in 2014, with dozens of journalists imprisoned or forced into exile.

Photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zaid, known as "Shawkan," is the most prominent among them. A court ordered his release in September after he served five years, but he remains behind bars as his release, possibly this week, is processed.