Egyptian officials have refused to release any information about U.S. national Jeremy Hodge, who was taken from his apartment on the evening of Jan. 22 and is currently being held without charges.
A friend of Hodge's, who spoke to BuzzFeed on condition of anonymity, said that Hodge was arrested alongside Egyptian filmmaker Hossam Meneai. Meneai had just returned to Cairo from a trip to the Sinai Peninsula and was in the midst of filming a documentary about Egypt's Coptic Christian community, friends said.
"The police came to the apartment that Jeremy had and they stayed there for hours asking him questions. When Hossam showed up they spoke longer and then took them away," said the friend, adding that there was a third roommate in the apartment who had not been arrested. "The police were very curious about why Jeremy spoke such good Arabic, and they wanted to know why he had taken the time to learn Arabic; they were suspicious."
He said that it appeared that police had watched the apartment for weeks, and knew the comings and goings of the men who lived there. The building is well known in the area as housing several diplomats and foreign nationals.
Hodge and Meneai were originally taken to the Dokki police station, but it is unclear if they remained there or were transferred to another facility.
U.S. embassy officials confirmed that a U.S. national was in Egyptian police custody, but said it did not have further details.
"The U.S. embassy has not done anything and they don't know anything," said the friend of the two men. Hodge, he explained, has asthma and requires medication on a daily basis; when he contacted the U.S. embassy to ensure that the medications would be transferred to Hodge, the diplomat he spoke with said to deliver it to police, and that the Egyptian security forces would ensure it reached Hodge. "He didn't know where Jeremy was and he didn't know anything about the charges."
Egypt has recently cracked down on activists and protesters, filling charges against prominent academics Emad Shahin and Amr Hamzawy, and arresting well-known figures from the original Jan. 25 revolution, which marks its third anniversary on Saturday.
Sheera Frenkel is a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed News based in San Francisco. She has reported from Israel, Egypt, Jordan and across the Middle East. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 4A53 A35C 06BE 5339 E9B6 D54E 73A6 0F6A E252 A50F
Contact Sheera Frenkel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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