SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: December 13, 2014

Attack Types: Travel Restrictions

Institution(s):Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Region & Country:Northern Africa | Egypt

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On Saturday, December 13, 2014, Michele Dunne, a senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and U.S. scholar who has been publicly critical of the Egyptian government, was barred from entering Egypt to attend a conference hosted by the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, where she was scheduled to appear as a panelist.
According to Dr. Dunne, shortly after arriving at Cairo Airport on the evening of Friday, December 12, she was stopped and taken into custody by Egyptian security personnel.  As Dr. Dunne reported, when she asked why she had been detained, one security official responded, “No reason, but, Madame, you cannot access Egypt anymore.”  She remained in custody for roughly six hours before she was put on a plane bound for Frankfurt, Germany. 
A spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry stated that Dr. Dunne had been denied entry not because of her views, but because she had attempted to enter the country on a tourist visa, which he said was improper given that she was entering to attend an academic conference.  However, tourist visas are routinely used by scholars and journalists to enter Egypt to attend meetings and conduct research.  Indeed, Dr. Dunne reports that her own passport reflects 15 previous occasions when she was permitted to enter Egypt on a tourist visa for purposes of conducting academic work or attending a conference.   
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the denial of entry to a scholar in apparent retaliation for nonviolent expressive activity which is protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a signatory. While States have the authority to regulate entry into their territories, denying entry based on the content of nonviolent professional expression would violate academic freedom and State obligations under international law.