Following US pressure, an American woman who was jailed in an Egyptian prison for over 300 days has been released and returned home, human rights advocates confirmed yesterday.
Reem Desouky, a dual American-Egyptian citizen who is a teacher from Pennsylvania, was held without trial after she was arrested last July having arrived in Cairo from Washington with her 13-year-old son, Moustafa. Her arrest is believed to be related to a Facebook account she ran which was critical of the Egyptian government.
“We at the Freedom Initiative and her family and friends are ecstatic about her return home and would like to extend our appreciation to the members of Congress, civil society organizations, the State Department and the Vice President’s office for championing Ms. Desouky’s case,” the human rights organisation said in a statement.
“Her release is welcomed progress and a step forward in the right direction that we hope is built on for the release of others.”
Her release came two weeks after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged his Egyptian counterpart to keep American citizens in Egyptian prisons safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Around the time of her arrest, her son released a series of videos online, appealing to US President Donald Trump to help free his mother.
Desouky, a single mother, was among ten women inmates who started a hunger-strike protest late last year. In March, eight members of Congress including Ilhan Omar and Rashia Tlaib wrote a letter to the Egyptian ambassador to the US to highlight the plight of Egyptian political prisoners including those who are American citizens and mentioned Desouky.
In January the first US citizen to die in an Egyptian prison was Moustafa Kassem, it was revealed that he has been denied medical treatment for diabetes and a heart condition from which he suffered, his death was described as “avoidable” by a US official.