Journalist critical of Egyptian government deported from Cairo
Liliane Daoud, who has dual British-Lebanese citizenship, forced to leave after contract with ONTV network was terminated
A prominent British-Lebanese journalist who hosted a talk show critical of the Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s government has arrived in Beirut after being deported from Cairo, her lawyer has said.
Liliane Daoud, a former BBC reporter, could not immediately be reached for comment. But her lawyer, Zyad el-Elaimy, tweeted that Daoud planned to challenge her deportation.
There was no official explanation for Daoud’s brief detention and deportation from Egypt. But an Egyptian security official, speaking on Monday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised 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,” said Elaimy, speaking by telephone from Cairo. Even criminals, he said, were asked to leave, not taken from their homes.
Late on Monday, eight plain-clothed men escorted Daoud from her home in the Cairo suburb where she has lived for five years, after she announced on social media that the network had ended her contract.
Her 10-year-old daughter, an Egyptian national, was present when the men took Daoud away, giving her no time to pack luggage. She was only able to call her family from the plane before it took off for Beirut, the lawyer said.
Elaimy said Daoud’s deportation representated a new low in the government’s crackdown on dissent. He said authorities were “not prepared to hear any diverse voices or to hear anyone who is supportive” of the 2011 uprising that ousted the autocrat Hosni Mubarak and ushered in a period of political instability in Egypt.
Since the military overthrow of Mohamed Morsi as president in 2013, the Sisi government has shown little tolerance for criticism, banning protests and taking programmes off the air.
Daoud’s abrupt deportation has shocked her colleagues and other public figures.
Mohamed 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 the authorities.
Daoud formerly worked for the BBC, and lived in London before moving to Egypt with her daughter after the outbreak of the 2011 protests.
Her ONTV talk show, The Full Picture, aired critical views of Sisi’s government and hosted protesters and youth leaders as well as government officials. During the brief rule of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, she also hosted critics of the Islamist group.
Elaimy said Daoud had applied to renew her residency nearly a year ago but authorities did not respond, leaving her in limbo. He said Daoud had a right to return to Cairo because she had custody of her daughter.
The satirical TV host Bassem Youssef, whose programme was taken off air for his criticism of the government, suggested Daoud’s arrest was “just the beginning”.
“Egypt … can’t tolerate the rest of the world,” said Youssef, who has also left Egypt, on his Facebook page.