An Egyptian court has sentenced a 27-year-old American citizen to life in prison.
Mohamed Soltan, a graduate of Ohio State University, was arrested in 2013 after Egyptian security forces stormed a sit-in protest of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. Soltan was shot during the violent break-up of the protest and was taken into custody along with his father, who was an active political opposition figure within the Muslim Brotherhood.
Mohammed faced terrorism-related charges including belonging to the now banned Muslim Brotherhood and spreading false news. Throughout the demonstrations, Soltan served as media activist for the sit-in protests and as a liaison with journalists covering the stand-off with the Egyptian government.
Soltan’s family say he was physically abused while in Egyptian custody. Pictures of Soltan leaked from prison showed him with severe bruises and injuries. Soltan has been on a hunger strike for months protesting what his family says is an unjust trial. He had to be wheeled into the court house because he was too weak to walk.
“As a nation that prides itself on justice and democracy, it is an abomination that a U. S. citizen who committed no crime has been in prison for even a day, let alone a year and a half,” his family said in a statement.
The Egyptian government has sentenced thousands of protesters and dissidents to jail or death, human rights groups say, since the country’s military-backed government took control from Morsi in July 2013. Last April, a judge sentenced 683 alleged supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death in a single trial, drawing widespread condemnation from rights groups and the international community.