Family of 19 yr old Briton held in Egypt fear he will be sentenced for spying

Muhammed Fathi Abulkasem

The family of a 19-year-old British man fear that he is due to be sentenced for spying in Egypt over a mobile phone video that showed a military helicopter in the background.

Muhammed Fathi Abulkasem’s arrest took place shortly after he arrived in Alexandria on November 21, his cousin Shareen Nawaz said.

Abulkasem, an A-level student from Manchester in the UK, was travelling to Alexandria from neighbouring Libya, where he had recently moved with his family in order to spend time with his ill grandmother, according to his family.

They said the Libyan-British national had previously lived in Egypt for four years and was returning to visit friends before he started university next year.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry has not commented on the case, but taking unauthorised photographs or footage of or near military facilities, equipment or personnel is strictly prohibited in Egypt.

Meanwhile, the UK Foreign Office confirmed the arrest of a Briton in Alexandria but did not elaborate.

Abulkasem’s family has started a petition calling on the British government to secure his release.

It says: “19-year-old Muhammed Fathi Abulkasem from the UK, is being held without legal representation in Alexandria, Egypt. He is due to be sentenced for collecting intelligence against the army in Egypt for taking a photo from the plane as he landed in Alexandria airport. Abulkasem, was re-visiting Egypt to see old friend’s, as he used to live there with his family for over 4 years.

“Abulkasem is an innocent British teenage citizen wrongly accused in an Egyptian prison.  He is a role model to the youngsters in communities he has lived in as a respected English and maths tutor.

“It has now become a case of the Egyptian National Security and his family are appealing to local MP’s to urge the Foreign Minister to step in.”

His mother, Imaan Rafiq said: “When I close my eyes at night, I can’t think about him. I have to put a blank wall because I cannot imagine him in there, I just want to hold him. He always gave me morning hugs, and when he came back [home from school] he gave me hugs. So I always had my two hugs a day.”

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