Released Swiss detainee arrives from Egypt

A 29-year-old Swiss teacher arrived back in Switzerland on Tuesday after being detained by authorities in Egypt for more than two weeks because of a name mixup.

Released Swiss detainee arrives from Egypt
Photo of Rolf Künti on his Facebook page (detail).

Rolf Künti arrived at Geneva airport, where he was greeted by his family after Swiss diplomats succeeded in aiding his return from Sharm el-Sheikh.

Künti was detained by customs officials at the airport of the Red Sea resort on April 15 as he was planning to catch a flight home following a holiday spent with a colleague.

The primary school teacher and local municipal councillor (a member of the Swiss People’s Party) from Meikirch, a village northeast of Bern, was held under house arrest at a hotel.

Künti was initially reported as saying by Swiss media that he was held because his name when translated into Arabic was the same as a known terrorist.

But on the weekend, he told Schweiz am Sonntag that he was informed by the Swiss ambassador in Cairo that there were “no suspicions of terrorism”.

The Swiss federal department of foreign affairs announced on Sunday that Egyptian authorities had granted Künti the right to return to Switzerland.

“I am happy to be here, happy to be home,” Künti told journalists after his plane touched down in Geneva.

He said he did not know, in the end, why he was detained in Egypt, the ATS news agency reported.

The teacher said he remained next to the telephone in order to stay in constant contact with the Swiss Embassy in Egypt.
He admitted to have a moment of nervousness when he was surrounded by agents as he entered the Sharm el-Sheikh airport for his departure, even though he was accompanied by a Swiss consular official, ATS said.

The official had to pay so that his luggage could be checked because he had “no more money”.

He said he would like to return to Egypt one day but “not this summer”.

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