An American student has been released after spending almost 500 days in an Egyptian detention centre.
Mohamed Amashah, a 24-year-old Egyptian-American medical student from Jersey City, arrived in Dulles Airport yesterday.
Amashah had been held in pretrial detention for allegedly misusing social media and aiding a terror group after he stood in Tahrir Square with a sign which read: “Freedom for all the political prisoners.”
He was arrested and sent to the notorious Tora Prison complex and was eventually released 16 months later after giving up his Egyptian citizenship.
This is a regular demand made by Egyptian authorities – in 2015 Mohamed Soltan, also a dual citizen, relinquished his citizenship as a condition for his release.
The worldwide coronavirus pandemic brought renewed focus on the issue of political prisoners in Egypt and rights organisations pointed out that the virus would spread rapidly through the overcrowded, dirty cells.
In March, a number of prisoners including Amashah went on hunger strike to try and pressure authorities to release them. Amashah has asthma and an autoimmune disease and his health deteriorated in detention.
At the beginning of this year Mustafa Kassem became the first US citizen to die in a cell after he went on a hunger and thirst strike and his health deteriorated.
Egyptian authorities repeatedly ignored pleas that he be released.
Amashah’s release has been described as a “step forward in the right direction” by the Freedom Initiative, however, the threat of death in detention and ongoing incarceration remains very real for thousands of other prisoners.
Osama Al-Faramawi, 53, died yesterday in Al-Ahrar Hospital in Zagazig after being infected with coronavirus whilst in prison. Al-Faramawi had hepatitis C.
Earlier this month Al-Nadim Centre released a report to say there had been 13 deaths in detention in June alone from medical negligence.
There has been a serious escalation in the practice of withholding urgent medical care and medicine from detainees over the last several months.