Intel: Egypt releases US political prisoner

al-monitor The US and Egyptian national flags are pictured in an undated illustration. Photo by Getty.

May 5, 2020

Egypt has released American political prisoner Reem Mohamed Desouky, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

Desouky has reportedly returned to her home in Pennsylvania after spending 10 months in an Egyptian prison for sharing social media posts detailing social and economic conditions in Egypt.

Why it matters:  The Donald Trump administration and Congress have called on Egypt to release all American detainees from its overcrowded prisons as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the country. Egypt released 15 opposition activists in March.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised the issue with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on a phone call last month.

What’s next:  Egypt is still holding at least five American political prisoners following Desouky’s release. They include Mohamed Amashah, an Egyptian-American medical student arrested last year for protesting against the thousands of political prisoners in Egyptian jails. Amashah, who suffers from autoimmune deficiency and asthma, went on hunger strike last month to protest his treatment.

Amashah’s case is reminiscent of the circumstances that killed Mustafa Kassem, a diabetic American who died during a hunger strike in an Egyptian prison earlier this year. His death prompted lawmakers to call on the Trump administration to implement legally mandated sanctions on Egyptian officials involved in the wrongful detention of US citizens.

Know more:  Bryant Harris has the story on Kassem’s death and Congress’ push to sanction Egypt over political prisoners there.

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