An American detained in Egypt

Here and Now

This story was originally covered by PRI’s Here and Now. For more, listen to the audio above.

Rosa Navarro, an American studying in Egypt, was returning home in the midst of the recent protests when the police stopped her and her friend. They asked for her passport and questioned what she was doing. She said they were students on their way back home.

“They released us,” she told PRI’s Here and Now. “But then within two minutes, they came back. And at that point they asked us to accompany them.” She and her friend were taken to the police station and turned them over to the military police.

It was in the hands of the military police that the interrogation intensified. She says they asked, “what we were doing in Egypt? Why we were still here? Why we hadn’t evacuated? Who did we work for? Are we journalists?”

“We kept telling them, no we were students,” Navarro told Here and Now. “We both had our student IDs on us.”

When the police failed to prove that Navarro and her friend were journalists, she says they began accusing them of being spies. The police told her that “all the students had evacuated, and if we were still here, that means we had a stake in it.” According to Navarro, they accused her friend, of Belgian descent, of working for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

The accusations fit with the government narrative that foreigners were behind the protests. Navarro says, “It’s kind of become this little witch hunt here, with the foreigners.”

Still, Navarro had no plans to leave Egypt, and remained resolute. “As of now I have no plans on leaving,” she told Here and Now. “I really don’t have any plans on giving into the government intimidation tactics.”


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