Egyptian authorities arrested and deported a British-Lebanese journalist who was critical of the government on her popular television news program Tuesday, the latest in a string of arrests of reporters.
The lawyer for TV host Liliane Daoud, Zyad el-Elaimy, told the Associated Press that men in plain clothes claiming to be police came to Daoud’s home and arrested her in front of her 10-year-old daughter. The officers took her cell phone and her British passport and took her to an “unknown location,” according to her ex-husband.
Officials said Daoud had been taken to the airport and put on a plane to Lebanon, “expelling” her from the country.
“An Egyptian security official confirmed the arrest, saying Daoud's residency permit has expired and that she will be deported,” AP reported. “The official added, however, that she had crossed red lines in her TV program and will not be allowed to return to Egypt as punishment.”
The forced deportation came just hours after Daoud’s contract with the television network ONTV expired. The network had been bought in May by Ahmed Abou Hashima, a businessman and supporter of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.
Daoud had hosted a political talk show called Al-Soura Al-Kamila, or The Full Picture. The show had aired commentary critical of el-Sisi, which seems to have angered the network’s new owner.
"This is a campaign against respectable media and free journalism," the editor-in-chief of Daoud’s show told BBC. “All we were doing was presenting a respectable show... so we don't know what we are being punished for.”
Bassem Youssef, an Egyptian political satirist whose TV show was also canceled due to criticism of the government, called Daoud’s deportation a kidnapping in a Facebook post and said it was “just the beginning.”
“Egypt can’t tolerate the rest of the world,” he wrote.
Youssef’s statements resonate with journalists in the country, who have experienced a widespread crackdown on free speech and expression of dissent under el-Sisi’s administration.
In May, three top members of a journalist union were arrested and charged with “publishing false news” and “harboring a fugitive,” according to Deutsche Welle. The European Union called this “a worrying development” and Amnesty International said it signaled “a dangerous escalation of the Egyptian authorities’ draconian clampdown” on free speech.
Daoud’s lawyer reiterated that the government was "not prepared to hear any diverse voices or to hear anyone who is supportive" of the uprising that took down Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011. He added that Daoud’s arrest indicated a step up in the brutality of the government’s suppression of free press.
“It's the first time someone is deported in this fashion in Egypt,” el-Elaimy said. “Even criminals are asked to leave, not taken from their homes.”
Telegraph reported that Daoud used to work for the BBC in London before moving to Egypt with her young daughter in 2011 to cover the protests that took down Mubarak.