CAIRO – The Egyptian government said a U.S. citizen it detained in the Sinai Peninsula last month for violating curfew was found dead Sunday in his jail cell, the second foreigner to die in detention in recent weeks.
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.
In Washington, the State Department identified the American as James Lunn and said U.S. consular officials in Cairo were informed of his arrest on Aug. 28, a day after the Egyptians detained him. Consular officials had been in touch with Egyptian authorities and Lunn since, it said.
A statement by the Egyptian Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police, said Lunn was detained Aug. 27 during combing operations that followed a car bombing outside a police station in the turbulent northern region of Sinai. It said a computer and maps of important installations were found in his possession. It did not identify the facilities.
Lunn, it continued, was remanded in police custody and was remanded again for 30 days by a court on Saturday. He was found hanged Sunday at the door of the bathroom of his cell block in an Ismailia police station. A coroner has been appointed to determine the cause of death, the statement said.
Security officials earlier said he was a retired U.S. Army officer, a claim denied by the State Department. Lunn arrived in Cairo from the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain on Aug. 25, Egyptian officials said.
They had said he was detained by army troops in Sinai three days later while making his way to the border crossing with Gaza in the town of Rafah.
He was flown to Ismailia on a military aircraft and handed over to the police there, the officials said. Jailers found him 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.