My name is Yusuf Wehelie. I am a 19-year-old American citizen who was born in Fairfax, Virginia. Last year I traveled to Sanaa, Yemen to visit my brother, Yahya, and to study Arabic.On May 4th, we flew to Cairo, Egypt, to return to the United States. In transit to the United States, we were prevented from doing so by EgyptAir employees.
After being directed to the United States embassy in Cairo, embassy officials told us that we would need to wait until the FBI could speak to us. In the meantime, they confiscated my brother’s passport and told us to stay in a nearby hotel.
Two FBI agents arrived in a few days, and they interrogated us several times. Our father had arranged for a lawyer in the United States, but the FBI agents said that if we used him, we would be stuck in Cairo for weeks. The FBI agents refused to include our lawyer in the interrogation process.
On May 7th, I was told by the FBI that I could return to the United States. I went to the airport by myself and was waiting in line for the security screening when I was approached by men in uniforms. They took me to a small room where they said they needed to search my luggage. I was surprised, because I thought my luggage had already gone to the United States on May 4th. But in one of my checked bags was a ceremonial Jambiya, a common souvenir from Yemen that they falsely said was illegal.
A man wearing a suit soon entered and asked me questions.When I asked him who he was, he claimed to be from the “CIA” and said that I would not go home and he would put me in prison if I did not answer his questions. He interrogated me for a short time. I then asked to use the restroom and was taken to a small prison within the airport. I was kept there overnight.
The next day, after having eaten only a piece of bread, I was taken before an Egyptian official, who allowed my release.
But I was not released. Instead, I was put in the back of an Egyptian police car, blindfolded and driven to what I believe to be the Police Ministry.It was here that I was placed in a corridor with other prisoners and shackled to the wall.I could barely move and injured my shoulder because of the confinement.Whenever I tried to sleep, I was kicked by a guard; they were subjecting me to sleep deprivation.I was also struck in the back of the head by a guard.
I was repeatedly interrogated by Egyptians, who stated over and over that they worked for the United States government and that they were questioning me at the request of the United States government.What I found to be odd was that the Egyptian interrogator asked me the same questions that the American FBI agents had been asking. It seemed obvious that the Egyptian interrogator was getting the questions from the FBI agent.
I was kept in this location until May 11th, when I was permitted to leave. In order to leave they made me sign a paper in Arabic; I asked for a translation, but they refused to translate it.
The next day I flew to the United States, where, on arrival, I was escorted out of the airport by two FBI agents.
What happened to me was wrong, and I want to make sure that it does not happen to any other American citizens. My brother is still trapped in Cairo because the FBI will not allow him to return. I want him to come home to the United States. Thank you.