A British journalist expelled from the country last month did not have valid accreditation and was filming without a permit, Egyptian authorities said Sunday.
The State Information Service said in a statement that The Times of London correspondent Bel Trew, expelled after being threatened with military trial, also covered Egypt unfairly and published false information.
The move comes as part of a heavy crackdown on media ahead of this week’s presidential election, which general-turned-President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is set to win after all serious competitors were arrested or intimidated into dropping out.
Trew, who had been in Egypt for seven years, was expelled in late February after being arrested while reporting in Shoubra, a central Cairo district. The SIS said she had not applied for a temporary press card while awaiting her annual one.
Neither The Times nor Trew did not immediately had responses to the claim. The SIS said that authorities had issued Trew with credentials allowing her to cover the election but did not clarify how she could return to the country after being expelled.
It also took aim at reporters who wrote about the expulsion, saying they did not ask authorities for their version of events.
Trew said in an account on The Times’ website that she has been listed as a persona non-grata and that Cairo authorities threatened to re-arrest her if she attempts to return.
She said her reporting in Shoubra was part of a story on a migrant boat that disappeared two years ago. An informer seems to have reported her to the police, she added. She was stopped shortly after she left a cafe where she was conducting an interview.
“The taxi had just pulled away from the café … when a minibus of plain-clothes police officers cut us off. Five men jumped out and took me to a nearby police station,” she said, adding that she provided the authorities with the audio recording of the interview. “It was either ignored and not listened to – or listened to and ignored,” she said.
Egypt has often detained, jailed and prosecuted journalists under el-Sissi, who led the military’s 2013 overthrow of the country’s first freely elected civilian President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, after mass protests against his one-year divisive rule.
Advocacy group Reporters Without Borders ranked Egypt as 161 out of 180 countries on their 2017 World Press Freedom Index.