Jeremy Hodge, a 26-year-old Los Angeles native and UCSB alum, will return to the United States after his release from custody in Egypt on Sunday. Hodge, a self-proclaimed “MENA region enthusiast” and freelance translator, was arrested at his home in western Cairo, along with his Egyptian roommate, last Wednesday night. The Associated Press stated that although the reason for their arrest is unclear, their lawyer, Ahmed Hassan, believes the domestic spy agency National Security took the pair into custody. Their arrest took place just days before the three-year anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, the start of the Arab Spring, which Hodge was also present for.
As a student in UCSB’s Middle Eastern Studies Department, Hodge studied at the American University in Cairo for the 2010-2011 school year. Halfway through his year abroad, he evacuated the region due to the uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak’s regime. Although Hodge remained in Cairo for the first several days of the 18 days of riots, he was forced to flee when the Education Abroad Program at UCSB ultimately suspended the program in Cairo. He opted to transfer to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he was given “a great opportunity to see both sides of the conflict,” according to an interview with the Jerusalem Post.
After graduation, Hodge’s interest in the region compelled him to move back to Cairo, where he began working for Transparency International, a nonprofit organization aimed at eliminating corruption. Additionally, he offered commentary on Arabian political affairs on his own website. A blog post by Hodge on January 9, 2013, stated that prior to January 2011, the average Egyptian citizen “had spent decades living under a brutal, stagnant dictatorship” and that “two years after the revolution, many Egyptians have unfortunately seen their economic lot in life deteriorate further.”
According to UCSB Education Abroad Campus Program Director Juan Campo, Hodge will return home in the coming days. A January 13, 2014, letter to current Egyptian President Adly Mansour by the Committee to Protect Journalists states that at least 44 journalists have been imprisoned in Egypt without charge since July 2013. The Committee also reports that the number of imprisoned journalists in 2013 — 211 — was the second most in recorded history.