CAIRO (AP) — A prominent Egyptian rights lawyer has been banned from travel after airport authorities canceled his trip to France on Wednesday, in what international rights groups described as part of a campaign to "suppress independent, critical voices inside the country."
Airport officials said that authorities notified Malek Adly — who was released from solitary confinement in August after being held for more than 100 days — that he is banned from travel by a judicial order. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Adly was incarcerated on a rolling series of administrative detention orders; he facing several accusations including attempting to overthrow the government.
His supporters say he was targeted for publicly challenging President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's April decision to transfer sovereignty of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
On his Facebook page, Adly commented: "I don't know how to thank you, Egypt."
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International both called upon the Egyptian authorities to stop imposing travel bans on human rights advocates.
The groups, in a joint statement on Wednesday, counted 12 cases where authorities banned directors, founders, and staff members of NGOs from traveling since the military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. Morsi's ouster was followed by some of the harshest security crackdowns in Egypt's modern history.
Hundreds of Morsi's supporters were killed, thousands of protesters were detained, and the government banned protests without prior police approval. Non-government organizations and local rights groups are under investigation for receiving foreign funds.
"The Egyptian authorities want to sever the connection between the Egyptian human rights movement and the outside world," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. Najia Bounaim, North Africa deputy regional director for campaigns at Amnesty, said that authorities are relying on "open-ended arbitrary travel bans as a tactic to intimidate human rights defenders."