Saturday, February 04, 2006

Egypt allows George Galloway entry after delay

Reuters
4 February 2006

CAIRO - Egyptian security officials allowed British member of parliament George Galloway to enter the country on Saturday after preventing him from doing so for more than 15 hours, airport officials said.

Galloway’s hosts had increased their efforts to persuade the authorities to allow him to enter while preparations were made in the airport for the prominent opponent of the invasion of Iraq to leave Egypt, the officials said.

“The Egyptian Foreign Ministry became involved in the issue and agreed Galloway could enter the country,” said an airport official who did not want to be named.

Egyptian immigration officials stopped Galloway from entering the country on Friday night because he is on a blacklist, airport sources previously said.

“He was refused entry on grounds of national security, presumably by the secret police,” said Ron McKay, spokesman for Galloway, an advocate of Palestinian rights.

Galloway had flown to Cairo to take part in a mock trial of US President George W. Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and British Prime Minister Tony Blair for their policies in Iraq and the Palestinian territories.

The airport sources said Galloway, who arrived on an Egypt Air flight from London, phoned organisers of the “trial” for help and spent much of the night in a chair.

“He has been held all night, first in the executive lounge, and then in what he described as a kind of cell with several others who he presumed had tried to get into the country illegally,” McKay said.

“He was surprised and of course he’s very angry,” he added.

Galloway has been in Egypt many times before, most recently about six months ago. But he has been very critical of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the past.

The two-day “trial”, which ends on Saturday, has been organised by the Union of Arab Lawyers, which said former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was taking part.

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