A senior US Senate committee has said it is “deeply concerned” about the declining health of Salah Soltanan Egyptian scholar and US permanent resident who rights groups say was arbitrarily detained in a Cairo-area prison.
Dozens of human rights organizations warned earlier this month that Soltan, 63, was in “life-threatening danger” and urged Egyptian authorities to release him immediately and provide him with “life-saving medical treatment. “.
The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Democrat Bob Menendez, echoed that in a tweet from its official account on Thursday, warning that Soltan’s health was “rapidly declining…due to neglect in prison.”
“Egyptian authorities should release him and allow immediate access to life-saving medical care,” the post on Twitter said.
Deeply concerned about the declining health of Salah Soltan due to neglect in prison. The Egyptian authorities should release him and allow immediate access to life-saving medical treatment. https://t.co/XSyusKzCkd
— Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (@SFRCdems) May 11, 2023
US President Joe Biden, who has pledged to center human rights in his foreign policy, has faces calls for pressure Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on the country’s human rights record.
Rights groups have accused the el-Sisi government, which came to power in a military coup in 2013, of jailing tens of thousands of dissidents and banning virtually all forms of political opposition. Cairo has denied holding political prisoners.
But while the Biden administration has offered some public criticism of Egypt, he continued to regard the country as a key ally. It also didn’t make any major revisions in the US. military aid and sales to the Egyptian government.
“The United States risks legitimizing Egypt’s abuses by continuing its near total support,” Seth Binder, advocacy director at the Project on Middle East Democracy, said in a May 3 statement, urging the Biden administration to pressure Cairo for the release of Soltan.
The Egyptian academic lived and worked in the United States for more than a decade before his arrest in Egypt in 2013, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in the same statement earlier this month.
Soltan was detained with others who opposed the Egyptian military’s overthrow of the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
At the time, security forces stormed a large protest rally in Rabaa Square in the capital, Cairo, and shot hundreds of unarmed protestersaccording to rights groups.
Soltan was sentenced to life in prison in September 2017 in a mass trial that has been criticized for violating the right to due process and for including foreign nationals and journalists.
The Egyptian authorities have also deported his sonProminent Egyptian-American rights activist Mohamed Soltan, in the United States in May 2015. Mohamed was released from an Egyptian prison after going on a hunger strike to protest his detention.
“[To be honest] I am fresh [out of] ideas on what more I can do to save my dad’s life before it’s too late! Mohamed Soltan wrote on Twitter on May 3 about his father’s ongoing detention.
“He is in the most notorious prisons in the world in Egypt and is said to have had 2 minor heart complications in the past [months] & was left unattended for 8 hours! I need your help to #SaveSoltan!
In its May 3 statement, HRW and 50 other human rights groups warned that the deliberate denial of health care in Soltan could amount to torture and urged Egyptian authorities to investigate allegations of ill-treatment. treatment at Badr prison, east of Cairo, where he is being held. be retained.
The alleged abuses include “the 24/7 monitoring of cells with CCTV cameras, exposure to 24-hour fluorescent lighting, and the chaining of prisoners to their cell walls without food or water. for days,” the groups said.
Meanwhile, in a leaked letter in March, Soltan said prison authorities denied him adequate health care “even though he suffers from life-threatening heart and liver disease among other complex medical conditions.” .
His family said Soltan suffered from chronic and new illnesses, including diabetes, high blood pressure, hepatitis C and spinal disc disease, among others.
“In addition to dragging him into an unfair trial, the Egyptian authorities are deliberately abusing Salah Soltan’s rights by not providing him with health care,” said Adam Coogle, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa. at HRW.
“Authorities should at a minimum transfer him to a qualified medical facility where independent medical professionals can care for him without hindrance.”
On Monday, US Congressman Don Beyer also joined calls for Egypt to release Soltan immediately. “Dr. Salah Soltan should never have been imprisoned to begin with, but the conditions he faces – including the denial of essential healthcare – now threaten his life,” he said on Twitter.
Dr Salah Soltan should never have been imprisoned to begin with, but the conditions he faces – including the denial of essential healthcare – now threaten his life. I call on the Egyptian authorities to release Dr Soltan immediately. https://t.co/oJqVWrk8M1
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) May 8, 2023