Dubai expat detained at German airport due to 'mistaken identity'
He had same name as a wanted criminal
A Dubai expat was detained at a German airport for four hours after security officials mistook him for a wanted criminal who has the same name as him.
Kareem Farid was heading to Prague for a much-awaited holiday, and had a stopover at the Frankfurt Airport in Germany. His dream holiday turned into a nightmare when officers detained him, confiscated his phone and started his interrogation.
Farid, an Egyptian PR professional in Dubai and a former journalist, said the officers told him that they were on the lookout for a criminal with the same name as him.
"I was shocked. I couldn't imagine that suddenly I might be dragged to the unknown and might go to jail without even being aware of what I did. For three hours, I was in loop of thinking of all the worst scenarios. I was scared that people's freedom might be taken that easy," Farid said, who has covered the Gaza War during his time as a journalist.
"They took my phone away even though I insisted I don't use What's App."
Farid said that the officers interrogated him for an hour about his work, his family, his financial status, if he had any relatives in Europe, their names as well as what the purpose of his visit was.
He said during the grilling, he was confined to a small room at the airport for the remainder of the time.
"They asked me how I got the visa and if I got it directly from the embassy or through an agency. And when I said I applied through VFS, the translator told me off the record that it's forbidden to apply through any agency," Farid said.
"They told me that the other guy they were looking for had the same name as me, but his first name was spelled like 'Karim'. And he had done something against the federal law of Germany."
Farid missed his flight to Prague due to the long hours he was held back by the officers.
"They paid for the flight but my whole trip schedule was messed up because of my late arrival in Prague," he said.
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