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Egypt Said to Arrest British Teenager for Military Helicopter Video

Category: Middle East,World

CAIRO — The Egyptian authorities have arrested a 19-year-old British tourist over a video he filmed on his cellphone that showed a military helicopter in the background, his family said.

The teenager, Muhammed Fathi Abulkasem, who is Libyan and British, was arrested shortly after he arrived in the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria on Nov. 21 from neighboring Libya, his cousin Shareen Nawaz said on Friday.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment. Britain’s Foreign Office confirmed the arrest of a Briton in Alexandria to Reuters, but did not elaborate. His mother, Amaal Rafiq, confirmed his arrest in a Facebook post.

“We didn’t hear from him until 12 hours later,” Ms. Nawaz said. “He basically told us he is held on suspicion of collecting information against the military.”

She added that he had filmed the video while his flight was landing, capturing a military helicopter flying by.

Ms. Nawaz, speaking from Manchester, England, told The Associated Press that the authorities had checked her cousin’s phone at the airport. He had been cautioned by his hotel’s staff that his booking appeared “suspicious,” she said.

According to Ms. Nawaz, Mr. Abulkasem had appeared in court three times over the past week and a lawyer had been assigned to his case but later quit.

Taking unauthorized photographs or footage of or near military facilities, equipment or personnel is strictly prohibited in Egypt.

“We all have one of those landing videos on our phones,” Ms. Nawaz said. “They shouldn’t have military helicopters in public spaces if this is what will happen.”

The arrest comes after a British academic, Matthew Hedges, was pardoned on Monday and freed from prison in the United Arab Emirates after he was sentenced to life on a charge of spying for Britain’s foreign intelligence service, MI6.

The United Arab Emirates said on Thursday that he had been treated “fairly,” but suggested he had been released to protect the country’s relationship with Britain, a key ally.


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