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US urges Egypt to release Egyptian-American activist

April 12, 2015 at 9:55 am

The US said Saturday that it is “deeply disappointed” by an Egyptian court’s decision to sentence an American citizen activist to life in prison.

An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced 37 defendants to life terms, including Egyptian-American activist Mohamed Soltan.

The rulings were each for forming what came to be known as the “Rabaa Operations Room” during a sit-in in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

The court also sentenced 14 defendants, including Muslim Brotherhood Guide General Mohamed Badie, to death for violence-related charges.

“The US government is deeply disappointed in the Egyptian court’s decision in the case of US citizen Mohamed Soltan,” said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf. “We remain deeply concerned about Mr. Soltan’s health and detention.”

She reiterated that the Obama administration’s call for Soltan’s release on humanitarian grounds, and urged Egypt to reverse the verdict.

The statement did not mention the other defendants.

They were charged with “masterminding a plot to sow chaos and storm and set fire to police stations, state institutions, public and private property and churches.”

Prosecutors also accused the defendants of “coordinating with e-committees to disseminate doctored images of people killed and wounded protesters.”

Hundreds were killed when security forces violently dispersed two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo’s Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square and Giza’s Nahda Square last year.

The dispersal came only a few weeks after Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, was forcibly removed from office by the army following massive opposition demonstrations against his one-year presidency.

The Egyptian government then launched a sweeping crackdown on Morsi’s supporters, in which the Rabaa dispersal is widely seen as having been a turning point.