On 20 October 2021, Ai-Da, a robot artist, and Aidan Meller, English engineer and the robot’s creator, were released after Egyptian security forces detained them at the Cairo airport for ten days under the suspicion of “espionage”, reported Al-Monitor.
According to The Guardian, upon her arrival at the Cairo airport on 10 October 2021, Ai-Da’s modem and cameras in her eyes concerned the Egyptian authorities. This resulted in the decision to hold Ai-Da and her artwork in customs for ten days. The Egyptian security forces freed Ai-Da and Meller after the British Embassy in Cairo intervened and requested their release.
Ai-Da, the ultra-realistic robot artist, arrived in Cairo for her exhibition, part of the “Forever Now” exhibition organised by Art d’Egypt.
Al-Monitor reports Mahmoud Bayoumi, a political analyst and researcher in Egyptian affairs at Istanbul Aydin University, saying that the organisers of the exhibit had “all the necessary security permits”, and the “papers were in order”.
Freemuse’s State of Artistic Freedom 2021 reports 133 artists being detained in 26 countries throughout 2020. Out of all documented detained artists, 24 were visual artists.