To continue the series of harassing or deporting journalists in Egypt, like Travis Randall, Philip Rizk and Wael Abbas; Per Bjorklund, a Swedish journalist and blogger has been detained in Cairo airport upon his arrival. He’s been stopped by security and is to be deported back to Prague without an explanation; he was only told “your name [was] on the computer.”
Per is regarded as one of the most active foreign journalists covering the Egyptian labor strike wave and human rights abuses for a number of Swedish publications as well as activist websites like Electronic Intifada. He also writes in his blog Egypt and Beyound, where he identifies himself as:
A freelance journalist currently based in Cairo. Covering the daily struggles for a another Egypt and another Middle East, that are too often made invisible in the narratives of mainstream media.
As usual, Egyptian Leftist was the first to publish “Free Per” banners on his blog.
Hossam El Hamalawy was one of the first to break the news:
Swedish journalist and blogger Per Bjorklund has been stopped around half an hour ago at the Cairo Airport. An Immigration Police Officer told him his “name [was] on the computer,” according to Per with whom I spoke on the phone few mins ago.
Per is in some room at the airport, where there are other people, and he awaits an explanation from the police.
Another foreign journalist, James Buck commented on his blog Journalism not a crime:
Per is a great journalist who helped me get connected when I was in Egypt. Looks like Cairo has decided to keep dissenting journalists out of the country. This is a big step backward for press freedom.
On a different note, Egyptian journalist and blogger, Scarr, published a touching post tackling the other side of the story.
Per was one of the people involved in the To Gaza march – as was Travis Randall – but other foreigners on that march have been in and out of Egypt since then without problems. No, there’s no great plan. This (“your name is in our computer”) is just yet another instance of what they do best: bullying disguised as bureaucratic procedure, as thought-out policy.
Talking about Per's girlfriend she said:
The last call I got in this whole sorry saga was an hour ago, when A rang me, still at the airport. No-one had bothered to tell her that Per had been deported (or at least told that he was going to be deported. His phone was switched off after Hamalawy spoke to him). She had been waiting there, alone, all that time. She broke down in tears.
Egyptian blogger, Mostafa, questioned if the repetitive incidents was a sign for new measures taken by the government against journalists:
Per is a brave journalist and his writing is almost always highly informative. He is a nice guy. This is both outrageous and depressing. I wonder if this stupid government is trying to reduce the number of foreign journalists in anticipation of the next two politically intense years.