Egyptian authorities hold stork, suspect it is a spying swan


Mon, Sep 02, 2013 - Page 7

In a case that ruffled feathers in Egypt, authorities have detained a migratory bird that a citizen suspected of being a spy.

A man in Egypt’s Qena Governorate, about 450km southeast of Cairo, found the suspicious bird among four others near his home and brought them to a police station on Friday, said Mohammed Kamal, the head of security in the region.

There, officers and the man puzzled over the electronic device attached to the suspected winged infiltrator. On Saturday, a veterinary committee called by concerned government officials determined the device was neither a bomb nor a spying device.

Instead, they discovered it was a wildlife tracker used by French scientists to follow the movement of migrating birds, said Ayman Abdallah, the head of Qena veterinary services.

Abdallah said the device stopped working when the bird crossed the French border, absolving it of being an avian Mata Hari.

With turmoil gripping Egypt following the July 3 popularly backed military coup that overthrew the country’s president, authorities and citizens remain highly suspicious of anything foreign. Conspiracy theories easily find their ways into cafe discussion — as well as some media in the country.

Earlier this year, a security guard filed a police report after capturing a pigeon he said carried microfilm. A rumor in 2010 blamed a series of shark attacks along Egypt’s Mediterranean coast on an Israeli plot. It was not.

The bird remains caged for now, as Abdallah said authorities must receive permission from prosecutors for its release.

However, one mystery still remains: Abdallah and others called the bird a swan.