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Egypt: British Nationality

Volume 495: debated on Tuesday 7 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British (a) nationals and (b) residents have been detained by the Egyptian authorities on suspicion or charge of terrorist activities since 2000. (283865)

[holding answer 3 July 2009]: From consular records we are aware of one case since 2000 of a British national who has been detained by the Egyptian authorities in which suspicion of terrorist activities has been given as the reason. We are aware of no cases in this period of British nationals having been charged in Egypt with terrorist activities.

We are also aware of a case of a British national who was detained on suspicion of involvement in extremist-related activity. There were three cases of British nationals who were detained and found guilty of their involvement with an organisation which is illegal in Egypt. A fourth British national was briefly held and released on the same grounds. Additionally, there were a small number of British nationals during this period who were detained on arrival at Cairo airport and returned to the UK, with no formal reason given.

Consular officials find out about the detention of British nationals overseas in various ways. The local authorities should inform us when they detain a British national. However, this does not always happen, particularly in the case of dual nationals in their country of other nationality. In many cases, consular officials will find out about a detention from the family, friends or the media. For these reasons, our records of detentions may not be definitive.

We do not provide consular assistance to non-national UK residents, and would not expect to be notified by the Egyptian authorities of their arrest. We cannot therefore give a figure for the number of British residents arrested on suspicion or charge of terrorist activities during this period.