Watch: Exiled TV presenter waiting in Ipswich for asylum application news
- Credit: Archant
An exiled Egyptian television presenter has been moved to Ipswich and is waiting to hear whether the Home Office will approve his application for political asylum.
Osama Gaweesh, 33, is a qualified dentist who took part in the “Arab Spring” uprising that led to the downfall of the former President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, in 2011 after 30 years in power.
A year later Mohamed Morsi became the first democratically-elected president of Egypt, but after a year in office he was removed in a political coup.
The new president, General Abdel el-Cissi, took action against the protesters who had forced President Mubarak from office – and Mr Gaweesh fled to Turkey with his family.
He could not work as a dentist there because he did not have the language skills when he arrived, but he worked with other Egyptian exiles to broadcast to his homeland by satellite television.
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Eventually he was offered a slot hosting a talk programme on Alhiwar tv, a station that broadcasts across the Middle East.
As a result of these activities, however, he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment by the Egyptian government.
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This meant that when he left Turkey with his wife for a short holiday in the UK earlier this year, he was told he would not be able to return to his new home.
He said: “As we got to the departure gates at Istanbul airport I was stopped and told Egypt had issued an Interpol arrest warrant against me. Eventually I was told I could leave Turkey, but because of this warrant I would be unable to return.”
His wife did return to Turkey to look after their two young children at the end of the holiday – but Mr Gaweesh was forced to stay in the UK, along with his parents, and apply for political asylum.
He is still waiting for the result of that application from the Home Office – and is frustrated about not being able to work while waiting on the result of the application.
He said: “I cannot return to Egypt because I would be taken straight to jail for five years and would not be able to work for eight years after that.
“People are asking why I am not on Alhiwar any more – but I cannot do anything apart from voluntary work while waiting for my asylum application to be dealt with.”