The Egyptian government’s State Information Service said on Sunday it had expelled a British journalist for The Times for breaking the law by conducting interviews without a press permit.
The London newspaper said on Saturday that its correspondent Bel Trew had been expelled last month in a move that signalled an “oppressive environment” for the media.
Trew was driven to the airport and forced to board a flight in February, but the London-based paper held off commenting publicly as it sought to negotiate her return to cover elections starting on Monday.
This had proved fruitless, and a spokeswoman said: “The Times deplores this attempt to intimidate and suppress our coverage.”
The State Information Service (SIS), which regulates foreign media, said Trew went to conduct interviews without having applied for a temporary press card while awaiting her annual permit, which had been delayed for all foreign correspondents.
She also “filmed interviews in the streets…without having necessary permits,” SIS said, in the first remarks by Egyptian authorities on the expulsion.
“As a result of these two flagrant violations, the Egyptian relevant authorities took its decision to deport the British journalist.”
SIS said Trew had applied for a pass to cover the presidential elections this week which was granted to her.
It also attacked foreign media for reporting her expulsion after The Times publicised it “without any scrutiny or submitting questions to the Egyptian authorities”.
AFP, which reported on Trew’s expulsion on Saturday, had sought comment from the authorities.
The paper said Trew, who had lived in Cairo for seven years and had been reporting for The Times since 2013, was held after interviewing a relative of a man who died on a migrant boat to Europe.
A spokesperson for the British embassy in Cairo told the paper that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson “has raised the case directly with the Egyptian foreign minister”.