Creating new perspectives since 2009

Prison letter from hunger striker Muhammad Sultan

May 12, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Peace and Mercy of God be upon you. I seek your permission not to interrupt me for seven minutes while I try to sum up the suffering of the last nine months. My health is deteriorating and this session may be the last I am able to attend.

My name is Muhammad Salah Sultan. I am 26 years old, Egyptian by origin and hold a US citizenship. I am proud of every bit of my Egyptian and American identities. I am a graduate of Ohio State University, with a BSc in Economics. I formerly worked as an Institutional Development Manager in a petroleum services company. I left my job in America and moved to Egypt in March 2013 in order to take care of my mother who was afflicted with cancer and my brother who is afflicted with a vitiliginous disease [a skin disorder]. I have been in Egypt for one year and two months of which I have spent nine months in jail. I was arrested together with my friends who were visiting me when the police came to our home on August 27 to arrest my father. When they did not find him they took us. Since that day until now this is what happened:

  • We were moved between five prisons and police stations.
  • We were tortured, beaten and threatened with death, which we did not rule out as a possibility since we saw, with our own eyes, detainees dying under torture.
  • We were jailed in small cells in the most inhumane conditions where more than one prisoner was crammed with one toilet facility.
  • I was interrogated by the national security forces, blindfolded and asked about my father’s whereabouts and about other information about him. There was no mention of me or any of my friends [who were arrested with me].
  • Two days after we were arrested an arrest warrant was issued and dated August 25. We were then transferred to the state security prosecution where we were interrogated about our opinions and thoughts.

While we were held at the prosecution office the following happened:


  1. We were accused of unbelievable crimes: terrorism, forming a gang and plotting to overthrow the regime. All of this was without any evidence or investigation.
  2. Throughout that period and until the first session before you, we were not, nor were our lawyers, permitted to see the file which was the cause of our detention.
  3. Without legal mandate, the state security officers interrogated me twice in the Tora Prison while I was blindfolded. They offered to release me in exchange for relinquishing my Egyptian nationality.
  4. On many occasions the prosecution neglected my repeated pleas for my health: my arm was fractured and I suffer from a chronic blood clotting disorder. I had bruises in my elbow and shoulder due to the beatings and torture. I would have bled to death in the prison cell had it not been for the intervention of a doctor who was jailed with me. He operated on me without anaesthesia and using primitive tools which were not sterilised so as to stop the bleeding.
  5. On the 15th day of our incarceration we were told by the prosecution that the case had become more leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, prominent political and media figures were added to the case against us.
  6. When the 15 days were over we grew optimistic because we were told we were going to be seen by a judge. We thought that finally we were going to see someone neutral who would hear us out. We were shocked when the judged ordered our imprisonment for 45 more days without hearing anything from us. On that same day, January 23, I decided to protest and go on hunger strike.
  7. Today is the 105th day of my hunger strike. I have lost more than 45 kilogrammes. My blood sugar level today was 40. According to the daily reports handed over to Ahmad Al-Sheikh from Al-Maadi prosecution by the prison’s hospital and by the health inspector at Tora Prison, my health condition has deteriorated severely and is now rather serious. I am on the verge of death from bleeding or a coma or sudden death.

Dear esteemed judges, members of the respectable court, I have been on hunger strike for 105 days and shall continue my hunger strike until I am released.

I am on hunger strike for the following reasons:


  1. Because my mother, my sick brother and my little sister need someone to care for their health and wellbeing;
  2. Because during my first months in Egypt I was busy going to work and caring for my mother and brother and had not yet been able to form a social life let alone take part in political activity or any affiliation with political groups or parties;
  3. Because one year of the most beautiful years of my life has been taken away from me unfairly;
  4. Because I do not want to lose more time;
  5. Because the state security officer inserted my name and the names of my friends in the case file that has led to my incarceration pending trial in the three biggest legal cases in Egypt;
  6. Because I now feel that my friends, the lawyer, the journalist and the doctor, have been jailed because of me, because I happen to be the son of Dr Salah Sultan;
  7. Because everywhere in the world, a suspect is innocent until proven guilty except in Egypt where a suspect is imprisoned until proven innocent;
  8. Because I lost hope I can ever find justice in Egypt. In the prison cell next to me there is a judge who has been here for six months in spite of the existence of the so-called immunity of the judiciary;
  9. Because every human authority figure who saw me treated me as a foe without even hearing from me;
  10. Because all of my legal, medical and human rights have been violated;
  11. Because I have been wronged, tortured and messed up. I come from a free generation that is unwilling to tolerate oppression, remain silent or fail to resist, a generation that challenges the impossible;
  12. Because striking is the only peaceful means left to me to resist injustice and oppression;
  13. Because opinion or thought, or even sympathy, is not a crime;
  14. Because I am truly living through a lousy movie: one of a country that woks against itself and does what is opposite to right, all using the paper and the pen;
  15. Because I refuse to relinquish any part of my Egyptian or American identity, because I love this country no matter who wrongs me and I also love America. I do not expect America to do much for a Muslim citizen of Arab origins because, for them, I am a second class citizen;
  16. Because I refuse to be the victim of a political conflict or even a political bargain of which I am not even a party;
  17. Because I am not afraid of death, which is drawing near. I do want to live but I want to live free, or I shall die free. If my life is the price of freedom, then freedom is worth paying my life for;
  18. Because what happened to me and my 26 friends on the day [the security men] came is terrorism per se, though [perpetrated] in the name of the law;
  19. Because I want to be declared innocent of this charge of terrorism because, put rather simply, Mr. Judge, I am not a terrorist.

Thank you.
Muhammad Salah Al-din Sultan
Tora Prison Hospital
May 11, 2014

Source: Rassd network

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.