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US-Egyptian activist freed from Egypt prison

Egypt on Saturday freed American-Egyptian activist Mohammed Soltan after he renounced his Egyptian citizenship, Soltan’s family and lawyer have said.

“It is with pleasure that we confirm that our son, Mohamed, is returning back to us after a detention that lasted for two years,” Soltan’s family, which resides in the US, said in statement.

“After extended efforts, the US administration managed to secure Mohamed’s transfer to us,” the family said.

Helmi Hileesh, a member of Soltan’s defence team, told Anadolu Agency that Soltan “gave up his Egyptian citizenship, which permitted the authorities to release him”.

Hileesh added that Soltan has already left Cairo en route to the US.

Soltan had gone on a months-long hunger strike to protest his ongoing detention pending trial on violence-related charges that his family and lawyers insist they are politically-motivated.

Soltan, the son of detained Islamist figure Salah Soltan, was arrested from his home in mid-2013 after security forces violently dispersed two protest camps set up by supporters of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected who was overthrown by the army.

Before his arrest, Soltan had been an active member of the “Anti-Coup Alliance,” a component of the National Alliance for the Defence of Legitimacy, which demands Morsi’s reinstatement as president.

Soltan was imprisoned along with 50 others over charges of setting up an “operations room” to carry out attacks on state institutions following Morsi’s ouster.

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi approved a law in late 2014 allowing the repatriation of foreign defendants to their home countries for trial.

The law was applied to Australian journalist Peter Griste, who had worked for Qatar’s Al-Jazeera channel, earlier this year.

Another journalist implicated in the same case who held dual Egyptian-Canadian nationality had to give up his Egyptian citizenship so as to be allowed to travel to Canada for trial there.

Both journalists – along with others – were accused of spreading “fabricated news” about Egypt.

Since Morsi’s ouster by the army in mid-2013, thousands of his supporters have been jailed by the Egyptian authorities.

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