New York, June 28, 2016 – The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the expulsion of TV host Liliane Daoud by authorities in Egypt late on Monday.
Daoud, who holds British and Lebanese nationalities, was seized from her home in Cairo by eight men in civilian clothes who claimed to be from the Passport Authority. The journalist gave her account of the ordeal in a series of Tweets posted late on Tuesday.
According to Daoud’s account, the men seized Daoud’s phone and her British passport, and refused to show an arrest warrant. When she asked to exercise her legal right to call a lawyer and to contact her embassy, the men began shouting and threatening her. She was then taken directly to Cairo International Airport, where she was told by officials that she would be ejected from the country. Daoud said she chose to be sent to Beirut, where she has family.
The journalist wrote on Twitter that she is pursuing all legal and diplomatic channels in order to return to Egypt, where she has an 11-year-old daughter, of whom she is the primary guardian.
“It is outrageous that Liliane Daoud was seized from her home and forced to leave the country without warning,” Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington. “Where independent journalists are concerned, Egypt has given up even the pretense to rule of law.”
Daoud was seized from her home hours after she announced the end of her contract with privately owned channel ONtv on social media. She had hosted the talk show “Al-Soura al-Kamila” (“The Full Picture”) on ONtv twice a week since 2011. Daoud hosted activists, politicians, and government and security officials on the show. She was often critical of government policy and performance under the leadership of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his predecessors.
Egyptian state media reported that Daoud was deported to Lebanon because there was no justification for her presence in Egypt.
The Associated Press on Monday cited an unnamed security official as saying that Daoud was deported because her residency permit had expired. The official added that she would not be allowed to return to Egypt because she had “crossed red lines” on her television program.
The channel on Monday released a statement announcing that it had begun a restructuring process, with the aim of increasing its ratings, and that Daoud’s contract had been terminated with the consent of both parties, according to media reports.
Businessman Ahmed Abu Hashima bought ONtv from its former owner, Naguib Sawiris, on May 15. In a statement released to the media the day the deal was completed, Abu Hashima said ONtv would continue its support for Egypt’s “nationalist leadership.”
The deal sparked fears of increased censorship on the channel, which has seen prominent, critical presenters and journalists such as Yosri Foda and Reem Maged depart since el-Sisi took office in 2014.
Daoud’s show, “The Full Picture” ceased airing immediately after the purchase, according to news reports. In a post to her Facebook page on May 20, the journalist said that she was on sick leave.
Daoud spoke out against the suspension of another television show, hosted by Reem Maged on ONtv, in 2015, and hosted Maged on “The Full Picture.” During the segment, Maged spoke about the pressures channel executives told her they had received from the authorities and which led to the suspension of her show. The channel later denied Maged’s account, saying the show had been postponed while the channel reviewed its programming.
CPJ was unable to reach Daoud directly for comment.