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Egypt must urgently provide health care to Salah Soltan, say 19 rights organisations

February 16, 2022 at 10:20 am

Political prisoner Salah Soltan [@ColossusDiplo/Twitter]

Nineteen human rights organisations have called on the Egyptian government to urgently administer health care to political prisoner Salah Soltan after a recent prison visit revealed his health was in a critical condition.

Salah was a deputy minister under the Mohamed Morsi government and is father of former US-Egypt political prisoner Mohammed Soltan, who went on a 490-day hunger strike to protest his own detention after he was arrested in 2013.

When he was in jail Mohamed was forced to listen to his father being tortured. He was eventually released and flew back to the US in 2015 after being forced to give up his Egyptian nationality.

According to Human Rights Watch, during the recent prison visit Salah was carried into the room by two prison guards as he was not able to carry his own weight.

He has asked prison officials multiple times to see a doctor and provide medication and medical equipment, but he has been refused. Prison guards are not visiting him daily and so would not necessarily spot a medical emergency.

Salah’s son, Mohamed, filed a lawsuit in Washington DC in 2020 against former Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi, holding him responsible for authorising the torture he was subjected to inside prison.

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As a punitive measure against the legal action, Egyptian authorities arrested six of his relatives in Egypt. It is thought that denial of healthcare to Salah is also a reprisal and aimed at keeping his son silent.

In June 2020, shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Salah was forcibly disappeared for a year. When he was allowed visits prison authorities transported him to a new jail and did not tell his relatives where he was being held.

Mohamed says that his father was blindfolded during the transfer and is regularly moved between different cells where he has been held in almost total isolation, starved, and is not allowed a watch.

Salah’s wife, Asmaa Elnaagar, told Human Rights Watch that he needs a glucose monitor, neck and back braces, and a blood pressure machine. He is diabetic, has high blood pressure and hepatitis C.

“Egyptian authorities should urgently provide healthcare to Salah Soltan, the detained father of a prominent Egyptian rights defender living in the US, or immediately release him to receive medical attention and investigate claims of torture,” said the 19 organisations.

Signatories include DAWN, Amnesty International, the Freedom Initiative and Sinai Foundation for Human Rights.