Journalist Hossam Bahgat prevented from leaving Egypt  

CAIRO: Prominent investigative journalist and rights advocate Hossam Bahgat was banned Tuesday from traveling through the Cairo International Airport per an order by the Attorney General, according to a public statement on his Facebook page.

Bahgat was planning to go to Jordan to participate in a U.N. meeting discussing “Justice in the Arab World,” according to his post.

Authorities at the airport informed Bahgat that his name was registered on a list of individual barred from travel outside the country per a prosecutor’s order without giving him further details.

Bahgat, also a contributor to Mada Masr website, was summoned for questioning by the military intelligence in November 2015 over an investigative report he wrote for the website on Oct.14, 2015 on the trial of military officers for attempting to overthrow the regime.

He was ordered detained for four days and then release, after “he signed a declaration stating he would abide by legal and security procedures when publishing material about the affairs of Egypt’s Armed Forces,” according to Mada Masr.

Bahgat said he had traveled twice since his release in November.

Several travel bans have been issued for academics and rights advocates, who were barred from travel or arrested on arrival at the airport.

Gamal Eid, the founder and director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information on Feb.4, was banned to board a flight bound to Athens. In January, German-Egyptian researcher Atef Botros was denied entry at the Cairo Airport and deported back to Germany.

In December 2015, Egypt arrested journalist Ismail Alexandrani at Hurghada International Airport, who has been detained ever since.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ,) Egypt has become the second worst jailer of journalists worldwide, with 23  now in jail.

In a joint statement, a total of 60 human rights organizations and advocates called for the immediate release of writer and researcher Hisham Gaafar, head of the board of trustees of the Mada foundation for Media Development. He has been charged with “belonging to a banned group and receiving a bribe from foreign bodies in exchange for information that the security apparatus considered harmful to national security.”

One of the latest government moves in its crackdown on the civil society was a threat to close the El-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, which has been supporting victims of torture and reporting cases of brutality for over 20 years.

Many activists and rights organizations, both local and international, have voiced their condemnation to what they believe as a “smear campaign” mounted by the government to restrict activities related to the protection of human rights amid a spat of violations by security apparatus widely reported in the country.

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