One German arrested in Egypt deported, another remains in custody

Twenty-three-year-old Mahmoud Abdel Aziz has returned to Germany after weeks in Egyptian custody. Eighteen-year-old Isa El Sabbagh remains in detention.

A 23-year-old German-Egyptian citizen detained by Egyptian authorities at Cairo airport on December 27 has arrived back home in the central German city of Göttingen. Germany's Foreign Ministry confirmed the man's return on Friday.

Egypt's state-run Al-Ahram newspaper said that authorities arrested the man on suspicion of terrorist links and that he had traveled to Egypt to join "Islamic State" (IS) militants in North Sinai

Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, who was in possession of a German and an Egyptian passport when he was detained in Cairo, was traveling with his brother Malik at the time of his arrest. The two men arrived in Cairo from Saudi Arabia, where they are enrolled in the Islamic studies program at the Islamic University of Medina.

The men said that they were in Egypt to visit their grandparents.

Visiting grandparents, or trying to join 'Islamic State'?

Separately, a second man, 18-year-old Isa El Sabbagh from the northern German city of Giessen remains in Egyptian custody. El Sabbagh went missing on December 17. His whereabouts remained unknown until Egyptian authorities announced that he was in their custody on January 10.

El Sabbagh, who also holds dual German-Egyptian citizenship, was reportedly in Egypt to visit his grandfather when he was arrested at Luxor airport. Al-Ahram reported that authorities found maps of North Sinai, an Islamist hotbed, in his possession at the time of his arrest. Egypt has been engaged in heavy fighting in the region since Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was removed from power in 2013.

Egyptian security sources report that authorities are preparing to deport El Sabbagh to Germany as well.

Germany's Foreign Ministry has said it was unable to provide information on the Egyptian accusations, however, authorities are looking into the allegations.

"Based on the information published in the Egyptian media, the prosecution service... is investigating whether there are any indications of criminal offenses," the service in the city of Celle told the AFP news agency.

Citing anonymous sources, the public broadcaster SWR reported Friday that the 23-year-old is known to authorities as a suspected radical Islamist.

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js/sms (AFP, dpa)

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