In Egypt, U.S. prisoner Mohammed Soltan was released and sent home.
CNN is reporting that Soltan, 27, had been sentenced to life in an Egyptian prison for his role in public protests denouncing the ouster of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsy. Soltan, who held dual Egpyt/U.S. citizenship, was put in jail in 2013, then to prison in April of 2014. Soltan has since been on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment.
Soltan was sentenced more for his participation in the Muslim Brotherhood, a group headed by Morsy. Soltan’s family, however, has reiterated throughout the entire ordeal that Soltan was not a member of that organization. According to Ahram, Egypt’s official website presence, the Muslim Brotherhood is now banned in Egypt.
Today, however, in Egypt, U.S. embassy officials gave good news. “The embassy can confirm that Mohamed Soltan has departed Egypt,” U.S. Embassy spokesmen said. “We are happy that he will be reunited with his family in the United States.”
Now that Soltan is being deported from Egypt, U.S. officials consider this case closed.
“We believe this step brings a conclusion to this case, and we are glad Mr. Soltan will now be reunited with his family in the United States,” said the senior State Department official.
Though his health is “dire,” his family said, “He will receive medical treatment as soon as he arrives on U.S soil and will spend the immediate future with his family recovering.”
According to the New York Times, humanitarian organizations were working with the Obama administration to get Soltan released due to his frail health as a result of his hunger strike. After Soltan was sentenced, he renounced his Egyptian citizenship. This allows current Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to exile foreign citizens found guilty of crimes against the state.
Soltan, who grew up in the Midwest and graduated from Ohio State University in 2012, was arrested in July 2013 in a sweep of Islamists after Morsy’s ouster. Throughout his imprisonment, Soltan refused to give up his citizenship to Egypt. U.S. officials helped to convince Soltan that it would be in his best interest to do so.
Though not officially a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, unlike Mr. Morsy and Soltan’s father, Soltan did participate in rallies demonstrating against Morsy’s ouster, though Soltan didn’t agree with Morsy’s policies. During a sit-in at Rabaa al-Adawiya square, Soltan was shot in the arm and violently removed from the scene, and was arrested 11 days later.
[Image courtesy of English Ahram Organization]