CAIRO — A U.S. citizen detained in Egypt for violating curfew in August was found dead Sunday in his jail cell, the second foreigner to die in detention in recent weeks, security officials said.
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo confirmed that an American citizen held prisoner in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia died from an apparent suicide and that it was in contact with Egyptian authorities. It had no further comment.
Security officials identified the man as James Henry, 66, a retired U.S. Army officer who arrived in Cairo from the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain on Aug. 25. Henry was detained by army troops in the turbulent region of northern Sinai three days later while making his way to the border crossing with Gaza in the town of Rafah, the officials said.
Henry was flown to the Suez Canal city of Ismailia on a military aircraft and handed over to the police who remanded him in custody pending charges, the officials said. Jailers found Henry dead after he used his belt and shoe laces to hang himself, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.
Henry is the second foreigner to die in Egyptian custody since last month. Then, authorities said cell mates beat a French man to death after his arrest in Cairo’s upscale district of Zamalek for violating curfew. Authorities slapped a nighttime curfew on much of Egypt in August following a wave of violence stemming from a popularly backed military coup that overthrew the country’s president.
Meanwhile Sunday, a Soviet-made MiG-21 fighter jet belonging to the Egyptian air force crashed while on a training mission near the southern ancient city of Luxor, killing a villager on the ground and injuring three, officials said. The pilot bailed out and parachuted safely to the ground.
The plane crash set several houses on fire and damaging an elementary school. The fire was quickly put out, said security and medical officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, a military spokesman, said on his official Facebook page that the plane crashed as a result of a mechanical failure. He gave no other details.
The Russian-made MiG warplanes were once the backbone of Egypt’s air force. They began to be replaced in the 1980s and 1990s by U.S.-made fighter jets, mainly the F-16.