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US judge drops Soltan's lawsuit against former Egypt PM

Former political prisoner Mohamed Soltan, 15 April 2016
Former political prisoner Mohamed Soltan, 15 April 2016 [Middle East Monitor]

A US judge has dropped a lawsuit filed by former political prisoner Mohamed Soltan against Hazem Beblawi and upheld the former Egyptian prime minister's diplomatic immunity.

"My TVPA case against my torturer was just dismissed without prejudice (I can refile)," Soltan responded in a tweet, adding that the news was devastating but also expected following the Biden's administration's intervention earlier in the year.

In April the US government urged that Beblawi be kept immune from the lawsuit, stating that the court should "accept State's certification of Beblawi's status."

The move was heavily criticised by Democratic lawmakers, rights activists, and Soltan himself, who said, "this attempt to insulate a torturer from accountability in US courts is a blank cheque to Egypt's dictator."

Last year, Soltan filed a lawsuit against Beblawi for overseeing the torture he was subjected to whilst in an Egyptian prison after he was arrested during the time of the Rabaa protests in 2013.

READ: Leaked audio shows Libya PM questioning Egypt judiciary's integrity

In jail he was burnt with cigarettes, his ribs broken, and at the same time goaded by the guards to commit suicide. He was also denied urgent medical attention for a bullet wound.

Soltan was also forced to listen to his father, who was also detained, being tortured. Since Soltan filed the lawsuit against Beblawi his father has been forcibly disappeared and his whereabouts are unknown.

Soltan embarked on a 16-month hunger strike to secure his freedom and was eventually released on the condition that he give up his Egyptian nationality.

His lawsuit was filed in Washington DC under the law to help implement a UN convention on torture and degrading punishment, the 1991 Torture Victims Protection Act (TPVA).

At the time of filing, Beblawi lived only a few miles away from Soltan, "enjoying the same liberties and freedoms that he unabashedly deprived millions of Egyptians of," Soltan wrote in the Washington Post.

The 1991 law stipulates that victims of torture in the US, but from anywhere in the world, can file a lawsuit in an American court for torture or inhumane treatment against someone who is in the US.

The news comes as Egyptian human rights groups denounced the US' decision to grant Egypt $170 million of military aid to coup leader and President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi as a "terrible blow to the Biden administration's stated commitment to human rights and to the rule of law" and said that the Biden's stated dedication to human rights was not sincere.

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