Despite her innocence, she was charged with possession and trafficking of antiquities.
The ordeal began when customs officials discovered the statue in Nathalie’s suitcase during security checks before her departure.
Although she had purchased it as a souvenir from an art gallery at the Winter Palace Hotel, experts identified it as a genuine 4,500-year-old antiquity. Nathalie, a lawyer, was then taken into custody at the Luxor police station, where she was presumed guilty and advised to apologize to the authorities by her court-appointed lawyer.
For eight days, Nathalie endured the grim conditions of the police station, sleeping in a crowded room alongside other detainees.
Jean-François Rial, CEO of the travel agency organizing her trip, intervened to improve her detention conditions, but bureaucratic procedures proved challenging to expedite due to state security involvement in the case.
After appearing before a French-speaking judge and presenting evidence that the statue was a replica, not an original antiquity, Nathalie’s proceedings were halted. However, she was not formally dismissed until the French ambassador in Cairo, Éric Chevallier, ensured her return to Paris.
Despite her release, Nathalie faces a lifetime ban from entering Egypt.
Determined to seek justice, she plans to challenge the ban and obtain formal recognition of the dismissal of the case.
The incident highlights the complexities tourists may face when purchasing souvenirs abroad and navigating legal systems in foreign countries.