Egypt bars TV host from travel after airing of criticism

AP News
Posted: Nov 24, 2016 1:20 PM

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian TV host who ran a video last month showing a tuk-tuk driver lamenting the country's economic woes has been barred from traveling, he said Thursday, in what appeared to be the latest move by authorities to curb freedoms.

Airport officials stopped TV presenter Amr Ellissy from travelling to the United Arab Emirates without providing an explanation, he said, adding that he was "surprised," and would be appealing the move through legal channels.

Ellissy is not seen as an opposition figure, but last month he interviewed a tuk-tuk driver who complained about shortages, and accused the government of lavishing funds on state functions while letting the poor suffer. The three-minute video was shared widely on the internet. Ellissy's network, Al-Hayat TV, later pulled the video from its websites.

Egypt has waged a wide-scale crackdown on dissent since the military led the 2013 overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, the country's first freely elected leader. Thousands of his supporters, as well as a number of prominent secular activists, have been jailed.

The authorities have banned several activists from traveling, or have frozen their assets. On Wednesday, they prevented Aida Seif el-Dawla, a prominent rights activist, from traveling to Tunisia.

"The decision to ban people's travel has evolved into a punishment tool and not a legal procedure," said Ziad Akl, senior researcher at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

In a separate development Thursday, an Egyptian appeals court reduced a three-year sentence against poet and writer Fatma Naoot on charges of contempt of Islam. She was instead given a six-month suspended sentence, and will not be imprisoned.

The accusation against Naoot stemmed from a Facebook post criticizing the slaughter of animals for the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha. She denies the charge of insulting religion.