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Egyptian activist barred from traveling to Germany ahead of el-Sissi's Berlin visit

A prominent Egyptian activist has been refused permission to fly to Germany for a human rights roundtable. The incident came ahead of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's visit to Berlin to boost bilateral ties.

An Egyptian human rights activist was barred from leaving for Germany on Tuesday, the same day his country's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi (pictured above) was due to arrive in Berlin for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mohammed Lotfy, executive director of the non-profit organization Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), said he had his passport taken away from a security officer who told him "you're not going to travel, you're going back home."

Lotfy said the officer refused to elaborate on why he wasn't permitted to fly, and when pressed simply answered; "security reasons." The former Amnesty International researcher had been scheduled to address a roundtable at the German parliament, the Bundestag, on the subject of the human rights situation in Egypt, which according to monitors has reached abysmal depths under el-Sissi's rule.

In a statement on their website, ECRF said it "deplores such repressive measures taken by the Egyptian state, attempts to close the Egyptian public sphere and isolating Egyptians from the international community."

Bundestag president disappointed in lack of Egyptian democracy

Norbert Lammert, the head of the Bundestag, last month backed out of a meeting with el-Sissi while he was in Berlin, citing the lack of democratic participation in Egypt's political process.

"I had hoped that cooperation would be possible between the parliaments of our two countries," Lammert, a member of Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), told the dpa news agency on Tuesday. "Such was the plan between us and the then-democratically parliament. In the meantime, however, there is neither a parliament in Egypt nor an appropriate plan to elect one."

El-Sissi is set to meet with Merkel and President Joachim Gauck on Wednesday in a first state visit that has long been desired by the Egyptian leader. The former military chief hopes to boost economic, security and military cooperation with Germany.

His visit will wrap up on Thursday following meetings with business leaders as he seeks to top last year's 4.4 billion euros ($4.8 billion) in bilateral trade.

es/cmk (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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