So here is what happened monday when I was detained for a few hours in Cairo airport.
The Short Version
nothing happened, someone made false criminal accusations about me,
the case is in the court, I have good lawyers, we don't know details
yet but highly unlikely it has anything to do with the regime and
chances of me being convicted are very slim. nothing to see here
except waste of tax payers money, valuable pro bono attorney time and
3 hours of my life.
that's all there is to it you don't need to read the long version.
The Very Long Version
we've been living and working in Pretoria, South Africa for a year
now. back in February our passports where stolen. for incomprehensible
bureaucratic reasons Egyptian embassies are no longer allowed to issue
passports so we had to go back to Egypt just to get new passports.
Our friendly embassy gave us a temporary travel document, it is the
same document they give to people being deported (illegal immigrants
for instance). so we expected to have a rough time at Cairo
airport. this is exacerbated by Egyptian security being paranoid about
lost passports and treating it as a matter of national security.
so we had to spend 6 hours waiting at the airport for our papers to
pass by several agencies and security checks by various police
departments, among them the notorious state security responsible for
handling political enemies of the state.
this is the "normal" procedure people who enter cairo airport without
passports go through, being activists was not an issue, in fact we did
not raise any flags at state security and we passed that step with
boredom as the only threat.
the last step was a routine computer search for any outstanding arrest
warrants or court orders and rulings against us. thanks to our new
smart and connected e-government we have a central database for these
things now, u go through that routine check if you are stopped by the
police for any reason including passing a red traffic light. it is not
unheard of for people to be surprised by cases against them that they
knew nothing about yet appear to have being going on for years.
Manal passed this final check without raising any flags, but it turned
out that in November 2009 I was sentenced in absentia for one year in
prison in a case of cheque fraud. and so I was arrested.
some context before I explain what this is about.
a verdict is not really a verdict