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British-Lebanese TV Host Deported from Egypt to Beirut

  • Associated Press

FILE - A passenger aircraft taxis after landing at Beirut airport, Lebanon, March 16, 2016.

FILE - A passenger aircraft taxis after landing at Beirut airport, Lebanon, March 16, 2016.

A prominent dual British-Lebanese journalist who hosted a talk show critical of the government of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi arrived in Beirut on Tuesday after authorities in Cairo briefly detained her and then deported her, her lawyer said.

Lilian Daoud, a former BBC reporter, could not immediately be reached for comment. Her lawyer, Zyad el-Elaimy, wrote on his Twitter account that her first comment after landing in Beirut was that she will challenge the decision to deport her.

There was no formal explanation for Daoud's deportation from Egypt. An Egyptian security official, speaking Monday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said Daoud's residency permit expired after her contract with the private ONTV station in Egypt was terminated.

"It's the first time someone is deported in this fashion in Egypt,'' el-Elaimy told The Associated Press, speaking by telephone from Cairo. He said even criminals are asked to leave, not taken from their homes.

Late on Monday, eight men in plain-clothes escorted Daoud from her home in an upscale Cairo suburb where she has lived for five years, after she announced on her social media account that the network had ended her contract.

Her 10-year old Egyptian daughter was there when the men took Daoud away, allowing her no time to pick up luggage. She only called her family from the plane before it headed to Beirut, el-Elaimy said.

El-Elaimy said her deportation is a new high in the government's crackdown on dissenting voices. He said authorities "are not prepared to hear any diverse voices or to hear anyone who is supportive'' of the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak and ushered in a period of political instability in Egypt. Since the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013, the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has shown little tolerance for criticism, banning protests and taking programs off the air.

The decision to abruptly deport Douad shocked her colleagues and other public figures.

Mohammed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and one of the Egyptian uprising's spiritual fathers who now lives in self-imposed exile, applauded Daoud for her professional reporting. "One day we may have enough self-confidence to understand the value of having different opinions,'' he said in a subtle jab at authorities.

Daoud formerly worked for the British Broadcasting Corporation, and lived in London before moving to Egypt with her daughter following the outbreak of the 2011 protests.

Her talk show aired critical views of el-Sissi's government. In her program, "The Full Picture'' on ONTV, she hosted protesters, youth leaders as well as government officials. During the brief rule of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, she also hosted critics of the Islamist group.

El-Elaimy said she had applied to renew her residency nearly a year ago but that authorities did not respond, leaving her in limbo. He said Daoud has a right to return to Cairo because she has custody of her daughter.

Satirical TV host Bassem Youssef, once described as the Jon Stewart of Egypt and whose program was taken off the air for his criticism of the government- said her arrest is "just the beginning.''

"Egypt ... can't tolerate the rest of the world,'' Youssef, who has also left Egypt, wrote on his Facebook.