The New York Times newspaper, March 26, 2014 (Diaa Bekheet/VOA).
The New York Times newspaper, March 26, 2014 (Diaa Bekheet/VOA).

CAIRO - Egyptian authorities have denied entry to a veteran New York Times journalist, the US-based newspaper reported on Tuesday.

David Kirkpatrick arrived at Cairo airport on Monday but was barred from entering the country, the newspaper said.

Security officials held him "incommunicado for hours before forcing him onto a flight back to London without explanation," the New York Times reported.

Egypt's interior ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.

Kirkpatrick was the newspaper's Cairo bureau chief from 2011 to 2015 and last year authored a book on the Arab Spring uprisings.

Egypt Lawmakers Approve Extending President's Term Limits

His writings have long stirred controversy and pro-government media in Egypt have previously criticised his reporting.

In 2018, pro-government newspaper "Youm7" accused Kirkpatrick of "deliberately distorting Egypt's (image)" after he reported on Egyptian officials' "tacit acceptance" of the United States' recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Kirkpatrick's denial of entry is part of a broader crackdown on media in Egypt over recent years.

Last month an Egyptian court sentenced a television host to one year in prison for interviewing a gay man.

A British journalist was expelled in February 2018, with officials claiming she broke the law by conducting interviews without a press permit.

A new law ratified in September tightened internet controls, granting authorities powers to monitor popular social media accounts and block those found publishing "fake news".

Rights groups say such legislation aims to strengthen state control of the media and curb freedom of expression.

Egypt ranked 161 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index in 2018 and 2017.