Egypt deports 2 foreign nationals arrested amid protests

Protesters chant slogans against the regime in Cairo, Egypt, early Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. Dozens of people held a rare protest in Cairo during which they called on Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to quit. Security forces dispersed the protesters and no casualties were reported.

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt released and deported two foreign nationals, a Mauritanian and a Dutch citizen, who were arrested amid a recent crackdown following anti-government protests, Cairo airport officials and a European diplomat said Friday.

Recent mass arrests followed scattered protests that erupted Sept. 20 in Cairo and several provinces in the wake of corruption allegations leveled by an Egyptian businessman living in self-imposed exile against the president and the military. El-Sissi dismissed the accusations as "sheer lies."

Activists say more than 2,600 people have been arrested over the latest protests, including over a hundred children and several foreigners. More than 400 people were recently freed, according to police sources.

Ahmed Ould Lamamy Maska, a Mauritanian student, boarded a flight to Morocco on Friday after Egypt's prosecutors ordered his release and deportation, according to Cairo airport officials who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Media in the northwest African country had reported that Lamamy came to Egypt last month to study at al-Azhar University. He was taken by Egyptian authorities from an apartment that he had been sharing with other Mauritanians and a Turkish national.

Also, Pieter Bas Habes, a 43-year-old Dutch citizen, was flown back to the Netherlands on Friday following his release the previous day, said Netherlands Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Willemien Veldman.

"He was released on condition that he also immediately leave the country. The embassy has facilitated this and he left Egypt and is now in the Netherlands," said Veldman.

Shortly after his arrest, Habes had appeared in a video that was aired on a Saudi-funded satellite channel by a prominent Egyptian TV host, saying under duress that he was arrested in Cairo after having flown a drone camera from the rooftop of the hotel where he was staying, in violation of Egyptian law.

The deportations come a day after two Jordanians and a Sudanese, also arrested in the aftermath of the protests, were released and sent to their home countries.

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Associated Press writer Mike Corder in The Hague contributed to this report.

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