Egyptian authorities have detained and deported a famous TV host whose program had been critical of the government’s policies, including its crackdown on freedom of speech, her lawyer and officials said.
Liliane Daoud was taken from her house to an undisclosed location yesterday, Zyad el-Elaimy said.
Daoud hosted a talk show on ONTV, a private network that has adopted a less critical editorial line since Ahmed Abou Hashima, a pro-government businessman, purchased it last month.
El-Elaimy said Daoud’s arrest, by men who claimed to be from the Passport Department, came hours after the network ended her contract, and that authorities intend to deport her.
“This is forced disappearance,” he told The Associated Press, saying he learned about her arrest from her 10-year-old daughter, who was at home when she was detained.
An Egyptian security official confirmed the arrest, saying Daoud’s residency permit has expired and that she will be deported. The official added, however, that she had crossed red lines in her TV program and will not be allowed to return to Egypt as punishment.
Shortly before midnight, an airport official said that Daoud, who is Lebanese, has been escorted by security men, without her luggage, to the airport where she took a flight to Beirut.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.
Daoud’s last posting on her Twitter account announced that her contract with ONTV had come to an end after five years. The contracts of another TV host, Gaber al-Qarmouti, and his team were also terminated.
Journalists and activists expressed shock at her arrest on social media.
The former satirical TV host Bassem Youssef – once described as the Jon Stewart of Egypt- said her arrest is “just the beginning.”
“She has been kidnapped,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
Authorities launched a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent after the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013, arresting thousands of people, mainly his Islamist supporters but also a number of well-known secular activists.
Also yesterday, Mozn Hassan, a prominent female activist, was banned from travelling to a human rights meeting in Beirut. Nazra for Feminist Studies, a group she founded, said the case was linked to an intensified crackdown on non-governmental organizations.