Thousands released from travel bans, Interior Ministry says

A high-ranking security official told lawmakers Wednesday that the Interior Ministry has removed nearly 50,000 people from its travel ban lists, and is reviewing the travel restrictions imposed on another 7,000.

Major General Hussein al-Reidy, who directs the ministry passport department, said Wednesday that there are currently 21,000 Egyptians and 52 foreigners on travel watch lists or no-fly lists, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

The watch lists are for people wanted in Egypt who are living outside the country, while those on the no-fly lists may be part of criminal investigations. In the past, such lists have also been used to suppress opposition.

Under former President Hosni Mubarak, Muslim Brotherhood members were required to receive permission from state security before traveling.  

During a meeting of the People’s Assembly Defense, National Security and Mobilization Committee, Reidy said that the Interior Ministry proposed updating travel lists every two years, while the committee members advocated for annual reviews.

The lawmakers also want public and military prosecutors to be the only authorities who can impose a travel ban, a change that would strip the ministry of the power.

The State Council, which adjudicates disputes between individuals or private institutions and the government, has issued multiple verdicts cancelling ministry-imposed travel bans.

In 2010, Egypt declared former British lawmaker George Galloway persona non grata, accusing him of incitement after his harsh criticism of Egypt for delaying an aid convoy’s entry into Gaza.  

Last October, Galloway wrote on Twitter, “My persona non grata status imposed by Mubarak has been lifted. Cairo here I come! Long live the Egyptian Revolution!”

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