CAIRO -- An American citizen detained by Egyptian authorities since late August was found hanged in his jail cell on Sunday, U.S. and Egyptian officials said. Egyptian authorities described the death as an apparent suicide.
The man, identified by the U.S. Embassy as James Henry Lunn, was the second foreigner in a month to die in Egyptian custody. In September, a French man who had been living in Cairo was allegedly beaten to death by cellmates after being picked up for violating a curfew that has been in place under a government-declared state of emergency.
Other foreigners have been caught up in a wave of arrests associated with violent turmoil that erupted weeks after Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was toppled by the military on July 3. Two Canadian nationals arrested in Cairo in mid-August spent seven weeks in jail before being freed last weekend and allowed to travel home Friday.
The Egyptian public prosecutor’s office said Lunn had been detained Aug. 29 in a restive northern area of the Sinai peninsula, where Egyptian security forces have been battling Islamist militants. After being picked up on the road leading to the Gaza Strip after curfew, the American was jailed in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia.
No formal charges had been filed against Lunn. Detention without charge is commonplace in Egypt.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman confirmed that Lunn had received a consular visit on Oct. 8.
An officer at the Ismailia police station reported that he discovered Lunn’s body hanging from a door on Sunday morning, and said there was a shoelace and a leather belt around his neck, the public prosecutor’s office said. It added that an autopsy would be conducted.
Some reports carried on Egyptian state media identified Lunn as a retired U.S. Army officer, but the embassy said he was not a military veteran. Reports in the Egyptian media put him in his 50s or 60s. The embassy declined to give Lunn’s age.