Egypt: US “Activist” Travis Randall Deported

Date posted: August 9, 2009


 

On his blog, Travis Randall describes himself as

… a nomad – in Cairo for the last 2+ years. Other places that feel like home include Azerbaijan, London and Denver. I have the freedom to wander, explore and see what the world will offer a young man with a resolution to take chances and try to leave places changed – either through meaningful relationships or bringing justice or healing to the vulnerable and hurting. I have the most legendary family I could ask for, each a hero or heroine in their own right. I am overly blessed to be part of so many wonderful lives and stories.

Hossam El Hamalawy reported the news of Travis's detention and deportation

Travis Randall, a US citizen and one of the activists involved in the To Gaza March, has been stopped by the police at Cairo’s International Airport, arriving from London. His laptop has been confiscated, and he awaits deportation. (You may notice there are increasing cases of police stealing laptops of passengers in airports. Remember, schools r starting soon, and those poor pigs also have kids who deserve some Back2School gifts.)

The US Embassy in Cairo, as usual, did nothing… and I’d be interested in hearing what Mr. Yes-We-Can in DC has to say about this.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) issued the following statementhighlighting the fact that

Assuming that the authorities have the right to stop the blogger from entering Egypt though he is accused of nothing, they have absolutely no right to seize his laptop and prevent him from making phone calls. This is an intolerable abuse.

Currently in London, Travis blogged about his experience saying:

The night before last I was deported (technically denied entry) when I tried to return home to Egypt, where I’ve happily been living for a bit over two and half years. If you’re in the friend or family category looking for an update, I’m fine and well – if not just a bit surprised and saddened by the potential ramifications this may have on my plans to return to Egypt and the work and life that I love there.

Travis stated that his last blog post was a couple of years back and his only "activist" act was the Gaza March

As far as the story goes – no one told me why I was denied access to the country – and I presume the soldiers holding me didn’t really know. I was ‘in the computer’ and can only assume, as the articles written in the last 24 hours suggest, that it had to do with my presence on the march. So for now I’m happily held up with friends in London. This is more than I can say for the poor young men who I shared an immigration detainment cell with for only a night, in which some of them had been held for nearly a month. In an odd twist they were primarily from Gaza, travelling with visas but unable to cross a closed boarder, waiting in no mans land without a country to get sent back to. Their story deserves to be told – travel being just one of the hardships bore by an oppressed and ill-fated people – and maybe I will at a later date.

Bikya Masr tells his side of the story as he held the keys to Travis's house in Cairo

An extra set of keys rattled in my pocket on Tuesday evening for the first time in months. It was the only way Travis Randall was going to get into his house later that night. That was around 9:00 pm. Randall had just sent an SMS saying he had landed and thanking for a taxi that was waiting in the parking lot. All he had to do was quickly stick the visa stamp into his passport and be waved through, just as millions of foreigners and Egyptians are each year. But, that never came.

Instead, at 9:36, Randall sent a “I think I’m about to get interrogated” message

an hour later and he was still waiting in a security room for information. It was then that I sent a tweet out saying that Randall had been detained at the airport. The goal was to hopefully find someone who had a contact at the airport in order to ease the situation.

At around 2:00 in the morning,

his phone and laptop computer were taken and all went dark and we waited for his call from London. Although it did eventually come at 4:00 pm, the fact of the matter is Randall is not in Cairo; cannot see his friends and cannot live his life. The entirety of the absurdity is eerily similar to Joseph K being accused of a crime he does not know. Nobody should ever feel like a criminal without knowing the charges. Randall was escorted and purchased a one-way ticket back to London for $800.

Farewell, my friend. Your keys are waiting for you upon arrival.

Bikya Masr expressed his disappointment at how the Egyptian National Press lied about his deportation. quoting the article in the Egyptian Gazette, Bikya wrote:

The article said that the official told the government run English daily that Randall, “a US journalist had been denied entry into Egypt … due to his regular criticism of Egyptian authorities, pointing out this was not the first time he have problems with Egyptian security.” The article continues to say that Randall had been “arrested last year after participating in a protest against the closure of the Rafah crossing on the border with Gaza.”

The reality for Randall is that these charges could affect a number of foreign journalists working in the country over the articles they write. If critical, it appears the Egyptian government is willing to force these people from the country.

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