Egyptian authorities prevented poet Omar Hazek from traveling to the Netherlands on 14 January 2016 where he was set to accept the 2016 Oxfam Novib/PEN Award for Freedom of Expression, reported PEN International.
Authorities detained and questioned Hazek in Cairo International Airport for five hours, eventually releasing him, but not after confiscating his passport. Authorities told him the travel ban was imposed for security reasons, reported the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.
The poet was en route to The Hague for the opening night of the Writers Unlimited Festival where he was to receive an annual award given to writers who fight for freedom of expression even in the face of great risk. Egyptian writer Alaa Al-Aswany will be accepting the award on Hazek’s behalf.
Hazek was recently released from prison in September 2015 by presidential pardon after nearly serving out his controversial two-year sentence for “protesting without permission” when he took part in a march in Alexandria in December 2013 bringing attention to the death of a man while in police custody.
» PEN International – 14 January 2016:
Egypt: Poet, Omar Hazek, denied exit from country
» The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information – 14 January 2016:
Egypt: ANHRI condemns travel ban on poet Omar Hazek to receive a freedom of speech award
» Arablit.org – 14 January 2016:
Egyptian writer Omar Hazek prevented from traveling to receive freedom of expression award
» Artsfreedom.org – 20 March 2014:
Egypt: Poet Omar Hazek imprisoned