For Immediate Release
Katherine O'Shea in New York: +44 (0) 207 553 8140 / clemency[DOT]wells[AT]
reprieve[DOT]org[DOT]uk / katherine[DOT]oshea[AT]reprieve[DOT]org
Sentencing Tomorrow for American Tortured and Facing Death Penalty in Egypt
An American facing the death penalty in Egypt, who was tortured after being arrested at a pro-democracy protest, will be sentenced tomorrow (April 11th).
Mohamed Soltan, a 27 year old Ohio State graduate from Michigan, was translating for an English-language journalist at a 2013 pro-democracy protest in Cairo when he was shot in the arm by Egyptian Government forces.
Mohamed was subsequently arrested without a warrant in August 2013 and detained for 5 months before any charges were brought against him. Upon arrest and during interrogation, Mohamed was denied access to a lawyer. He was tortured by security services – including being beaten with metal rods and intentional blows to his gunshot wound, causing metal nails in his arm to dislodge. A fellow inmate had to perform ad hoc surgery on his gunshot wound using a razor blade to prevent permanent damage.
Government forces subjected Mohamed and other prisoners to sexual humiliation, including forced nudity followed by beatings with clubs and chains. Mohamed has been allowed only one medical visit during his time in detention. Mohammed has been on hunger strike for over 400 days to protest his illegal detention, at one point falling into a coma as a result.
One of the charges Mohamed faces is membership of the Muslim Brotherhood – which he has always denied. Membership of the party did not become a crime in Egypt until September 2013 – three months after Mohammed was detained. It is illegal under international law for a person to be charged with an offence that was not a crime at the time they were arrested.
Earlier this week international human rights charity Reprieve, which is assisting Mohamed, submitted an urgent action appeal to the UN asking them to intervene in Mohamed’s case. The appeal, sent to the members of the working group on Arbitrary Detentions and the Special Rapporteurs on torture, summary, extrajudicial and arbitrary executions, and the independence of judges and lawyers, argues that any conviction of Mohamed would be illegal given his torture and the numerous international law violations in his trial.
Maya Foa, Director of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said: “Mohamed Soltan’s treatment at the hands of the Egyptian authorities has been an abject disgrace from the moment he was arrested. The brutal torture to which he has been subjected - and the countless due process violations he has faced - mean that any conviction would be flagrantly illegal. The international community cannot stand by and allow this kind of abuse to continue, particularly the US Government, since its first duty is to protect its citizens. Intervention is vital to ensure Mohamed is released from jail without charge and returned to his family in the US.”
Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.