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The Middle East Studies Association’s Committee on Academic Freedom wrote to Egyptian government authorities asking them to lift restrictions on travel and other probationary restrictions on Walid Khalil el-Sayed Salem, a University of Washington Ph.D. student arrested in May 2018 while conducting research for a dissertation focused on the Egyptian judiciary.

In the Aug. 14 letter, MESA’s Committee on Academic Freedom said it appears that suspicions about the purpose and nature of Salem’s dissertation research prompted his arrest and detention.

“Mr. Salem has not been formally charged with any crime, but since his release he has been subjected to several probationary measures,” the group’s letter states. “He is required to report to both a police station twice a week for two hours and a state security office once each week. He was also told that he was not allowed to leave the country. As Mr. Salem had been living outside of Egypt for 12 years before his September 2017 return to conduct fieldwork, legal restrictions requiring him to remain in Egypt constitute a severe disruption to his life. Most urgently, the travel ban prevents him from seeing his daughter; it also hinders his ability to complete his Ph.D. and pursue an academic career.”

The Egyptian Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.