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HRW Denied Entry Ahead of Rabaa Report

The executive director and a senior staff member of Human Rights Watch were denied entry to Egypt ahead of a report set to be released Tuesday on the mass killings at Rabaa al-Adaweya last year.

In a move that sparked major controversy, the executive director of Human Rights Watch and another senior staff member were denied entry into Egypt at the Cairo Airport on Sunday for "security reasons."

Kenneth Roth and Sarah Leah Whitson flew into Cairo to take part in the publication of a report set to be released on Tuesday on the mass killings of protesters by security forces in the infamous Rabaa' debacle.

Whitson, the head of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch, tweeted on Monday morning that she had been held for 12 hours before being deported for "security reasons."

Omar Shakir, author and principle researcher of the Rabaa report, confirmed to Reuters that both were denied entry, and that Whitson has already left the country, with Roth expected to leave in a separate flight later today.

Shakir also told Reuters that the New York-based rights group had already shared key findings of the 188-page report on the year long investigation, but had received no official response. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch is one of a number of international and Egyptian rights groups that have expressed alarm at the severe and widespread crackdown on dissent on the part of authorities, since the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi last June.

Reuters requested the government to comment on the findings of the reports before its scheduled release, but officials claim they will only comment after the report has been published. The report is set to be released Tuesday and it outcome will surely lead to debates in days to come.

The move echoes a similar incident last March, whereby rights activist Medea Benjamin was denied entry to Egypt while en route to the Gaza Strip. Benjamin was held at the airport for hours and assaulted by police officers, before being deported back to the U.S.