The Address | Benghazi – Libya
ALEXANDRIA – A British teenager has been arrested in Egypt on suspicion of spying, his family has said.
Muhammad Abul-Kasem, 19, was detained at Alexandria airport after he was searched and a picture of a military plane was discovered on his phone.
Mr Abdul-Kasem, originally from Cheetham Hill, Manchester, had been travelling from Libya to the Red Sea city with a friend on November 21.
His family said the teenager had been accused of “collecting information of a military facility” and was currently being held in a jail cell.
They say Mr Abul-Kasem had taken a photograph of the airport from the plane window as he arrived in Egypt.
“Everything is happening so fast,” said his cousin Shareen Nawaz.
“All within a few days he’s in court being accused of being a spy. His parents are going out of their mind,” she said.
“It’s madness – is it that easy being a spy?”
Mr Abul-Kasem has appeared in court twice since his arrest, however, the evidence against him remains clear.
Mr Abdul-Kasem, who was due to return to the UK next year to finish his A-levels, moved to Libya two years with his family to support an elderly relative.
He and his Libyan friend booked a hotel in Egypt together ahead of their visit. Both are now in Egyptian detention.
The family has started a petition calling on the British Government and politicians to help release Mr Abul-Kasem.
The British Foreign Office said it was “seeking more information from the Egyptian authorities following the arrest of a British person in Alexandria, as well as permission for consular access”.
The case comes to light just days after British academic Matthew Hedges was pardoned from a life sentence in the United Arab Emirates on charges of espionage.
The 31-year-old Durham University PhD student was pardoned and allowed to return to his family on Tuesday following strong diplomatic pressure from London.