HRW: Kept academically by the Egyptian authorities at risk of death

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By Webdesk

Human Rights Watch, along with 50 other groups, are calling for the release of Egyptian academic Salah Soltan detained in Egypt.

An academic detained by Egyptian authorities is at risk of death, a leading human rights group said, calling for his immediate release.

Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) call on Wednesday was supported by 50 other rights groups, who say authorities should immediately provide Salah Soltan with life-saving health care and investigate allegations of torture and ill-treatment.

Deliberately refusing health care could amount to torture, the US-based group said.

The 63-year-old Sultan has been “arbitrarily detained” and is the father of a prominent American human rights activist, according to HRW.

In a letter leaked in March, Soltan said authorities at a prison east of Egypt’s capital Cairo have denied him adequate health care “despite suffering from life-threatening heart and liver conditions and other complex medical conditions”.

Doctors have warned in a letter to US President Joe Biden’s administration that he is at “increased risk of sudden death”.

His family has said that Soltan suffers from chronic and emerging conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, hepatitis C and intervertebral disc disease.

“In addition to tracking him down in 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.

“The authorities should at least transfer him to a qualified medical facility where independent health professionals can treat him unimpeded.”

‘Abusive terms’

According to the group, Soltan is a permanent resident of the US and lived and worked in the country for more than a decade before being arrested by Egyptian authorities in 2013. He was arrested along with others who opposed the military ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, who came from the Muslim Brotherhood.

At the time, security forces stormed a large protest rally in Cairo’s Rabaa Square and reportedly shot hundreds of unarmed protesters.

Egyptian authorities deported his son, 51-year-old Mohamed Soltan, to the US in May 2015, but his father remains in custody.

In September 2017, Soltan was sentenced to life in prison as part of a mass trial criticized for violating due process rights and including foreigners and journalists.

In March, a statement from dozens of rights groups shed light on allegations of denial of health care and other “abusive detention conditions” at the Badr prison complex, where Soltan is being held.

The abuses included “24/7 surveillance of cells with CCTV cameras, 24-hour exposure to fluorescent lighting and being chained to the walls of their cells for days without food and water,” HRW said.

The groups have called on the US to urge Egypt to immediately release Soltan and seek urgent medical care for his condition.

“The Biden administration has prioritized efforts to bring home Americans wrongfully detained abroad, and it has been a long time since Salah Soltan has been reunited with his family in the US,” said Allison McManus, director of the Freedom Initiative.

“As long as Soltan remains behind bars, his American family cannot really feel safe.”

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