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Cairo (AFP) – An American man detained for more than a month was found hanged in his prison cell in the Egyptian city of Ismailiya on Sunday after committing suicide, security officials said.

A U.S. State Department official confirmed the death of James Lunn and expressed its condolences to his family.

The Egyptian security officials said the body of Lunn, whom they had identified as James Henry, 55, was found at noon at Ismailiya Awal police station of the Suez Canal city.

A prosecutor had decided on Saturday to extend his detention for 30 days, the interior ministry said in a statement.

A report from the prosecutor’s office, forwarded to journalists by the foreign ministry, said Lunn had hanged himself with a shoelace and a belt.

The interior ministry said Lunn was arrested on August 27 in Sheikh Zuwayid in a security sweep after a car bomb targeted the police station in the North Sinai town.

He was found in possession of a “computer and maps of important installations.”

Security officials said he was detained for violating a curfew imposed because of the wave of political unrest sweeping the country.

Lunn was stopped on the road between El-Arish and Rafah in North Sinai and told authorities he was on his way to the neighbouring Gaza Strip.

The State Department official said they had been “in regular touch” with Lunn since August 28, a day after his arrest, speaking to him over the phone.

A consular officer had been allowed to visit him on October 8, the official said.

“At no time did Mr. Lunn claim to our consular personnel that he had been subjected to any form of maltreatment,” the official added.

Lunn was the second foreigner known to have died in an Egyptian jail since a popular military coup overthrew president Mohamed Morsi in July, leading to a state of emergency and a curfew to deal with an Islamist backlash.

In September, a French citizen was beaten to death by cellmates in a Cairo prison. He had apparently been arrested at a checkpoint.


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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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