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Young inventor prevented from traveling to science competition

Airport security prohibited 17-year-old inventor Abdallah Assem from boarding a plane to California to compete in the International Intel Science Competition.

Assem was arrested on April 27 in downtown Cairo before a meeting with the minister of education, which was scheduled for winners of a local science competition that earned them the opportunity to compete in an international competition in California.

Assem invented glasses that reportedly allow people suffering from complete paralysis to control their computer keyboard and mouse through facial movements.

Assem, who is from the Upper Egyptian city of Assiut, faces charges of burning a police officer’s car, protesting with no permit and displaying the four-finger symbol that has become associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that has been declared a terrorist organization and is now banned.

Following a digital campaign and requests from several student organizations, the prosecution released Assem last Sunday on bail set at LE5,000. The prosecution announced that it would not prohibit Assem from traveling.

Assem told Al-Ahram gate on Sunday that he had obtained a permit to leave the country from the airport’s passport control department. However, while waiting to board, he was surprised to find his name called out on the internal communications system.

Assem says that airport security then detained him and informed him that a detention order had been issued for him on early Sunday morning.

However, Assem says that the airport security released him after he missed his flight and allowed him to return home. He said that he still has a chance of making it to the competition if he is allowed to travel by Monday morning.

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