Egyptian journalist 'disappears' after being deported from Jordan

Egyptian journalist 'disappears' on return to Cairo after being deported from Jordan
2 min read
The family of Hassan Al-Banna, a reporter for Al-Sharq newspaper who spent over two years in administrative detention in Egypt, has expressed concern for his mental and physical health.
Egyptian journalist Hassan Al-Banna was released from prison in February last year [Abdelrahman Fares]

An Egyptian journalist who was deported from Jordan has disappeared on his return to Cairo, his family has said.

Hassan Al-Banna, a reporter for Al-Sharq newspaper, was held under administrative detention by Egypt's State Security Prosecution in 2018 for the spurious charges of "membership of a terrorist group" and "spreading false news".

He was released in May last year after spending more than two years in a notorious Cairo prison, an ordeal which left him with lasting mental and physical health issues, his family said.

Abdelrahman Fares, Al-Banna's brother, wrote in a Facebook post that his brother had flown from Cairo International Airport to Amman's Queen Alia International Airport on Friday.

Despite carrying all necessary documentation on arrival in Amman, Jordanian authorities denied him entry to the country and turned down his requests to fly elsewhere.

He was ordered to return to Cairo and sent on a Royal Jordanian Airlines flight in the company of a security escort, arriving on Sunday, his brother said.

Al-Banna contacted his family at approximately 7:30pm Egypt local time, informing them that he was in the interrogation office of Egypt's homeland security at Cairo airport. He has not spoken to them since.

"We are worried about his freedom and mental and physical health. We, the family of Hassan Al-Banna, hold the Egyptian authorities wholly responsible for his mental and physical health. Equally, we hold the Jordanian authorities responsible for their role in the crime of surrendering him," Fares said.

His brother has called for friends and associates of the journalist - who suffered from chest pains and breathing problems during his time in prison - to partake in a social media campaign to raise awareness of his situation.

Al-Banna was arrested on 4 February 2018, along with his roommate Mostafa Al-Aasar, a reporter for the pan-Arab news website Ultra Sawt.

This came amid a crackdown on reporting ahead of Egypt's presidential elections.

Both were held in Cairo's notorious Tora jail and released in May having exceeded the maximum length of administrative detention in Egypt, which is two years.

Read more: Egypt muffles press with 'fake news' charges as elections loom

Both Egypt and Jordan are known to crackdown on journalists and stifle independent press. In a 2020 ranking of press freedom by Reporters with Borders, Egypt ranked 166 out of 180 countries, while Jordan ranked 128.

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