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Egypt deports Italian journalist after brief detention at Cairo airport

The journalist said being denied entry by the Sisi government has been 'a medal of honor'
Francesca Borri (Screengrab)
By MEE staff in London

Egyptian authorities deported Italian journalist Francesca Borri on Thursday after briefly detaining her on arrival at Cairo Airport, the journalist told Middle East Eye. 

Borri, 39, is an independent Italian journalist and author, who has written for several outlets, including MEE. 

The journalist told MEE she was denied entry by Egyptian national security officers, without giving any reason, after arriving in Cairo at 3am (01.00 GMT) on Thursday. 

Egypt is ranked 163rd out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders' 2019 World Press Freedom Index. 

Borri believes she was targeted because of her reporting on the case of Italian student Giulio Regeni, the 28-year-old postgraduate student at Cambridge University, who is believed to have been tortured to death by Egyptian security agents after vanishing in Cairo in January 2016.

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“It was hard for Italian prosecutors to work on the murder of Regeni because there was no cooperation from Cairo or Rome,” Borri told MEE. 

“That is why the work of journalists was crucial.” 

Borri told MEE she was the first journalist to begin investigating the Regeni murder in Italian media in 2016, and for that she has been on the radar of Egyptian authorities. 

“My work has underlined the role of various Egyptian security services in the case of Regeni, making it easier for Italian prosecutors to carry out their job,” she told MEE.

Borri said she was held “incommunicado” for more than three hours until she was finally able to ask a woman to text her father for help. 

“I was prevented from contacting the embassy of Italy and my phone was confiscated,” she said.

"The Italian consul arrived at 8:30am, but was not allowed to hire a translator for help communicating with airport officials." 

Borri boarded a 6:20pm flight to Rome after failing to get a reason for her detention from the Egyptian authorities. She holds both Italian and Egyptian authorities responsible for her deportation. 

She accused the Italian government of failing to press Egypt to prosecute those responsible for Regeni's killing, primarily due to Italy’s interest in maintaining its oil revenues in Egypt as the leading producer in the North African country.

Egypt has yet to prosecute those responsible for the murder of Regeni.

MEE has contacted Egyptian and Italian authorities for comment but has not received a response by the time of publication. 

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