Court Rejects 12 Organisations’ Request to Release Hunger-Striking Detainee

The Cairo Criminal Court rejected on Wednesday a request by 12 committees and civil society organisations to release hunger-striking Egyptian-American journalist Mohamed Soltan.

Soltan was arrested from his home on August 27, last year after the deadly dispersal of two camps set up in support of former President Mohamed Mursi following his ouster in July 2013. He has been on hunger-strike since January in protest over his detention, maintaining the longest hunger strike among those detained.

The groups, which included the Doctors’ Syndicate’s Freedoms Committee, cited Soltan’s poor health condition in its letter to the head of the court calling for his release. They said Soltan has been moved to the intensive care unit three times since his arrest, most recently on Sunday after falling into a diabetic coma.

“Soltan is now incapable of moving,” the groups told the court. They added that the defendant attends his trial sessions on a stretcher.

The head of the court described the request as a “blatant interference in the Egyptian judiciary’s work and the flow of the trial.”

The court had rejected on October 22 another request by the United States consul to release Soltan.

The court had said in response that “it rejects the interference of any country, regardless of its position.”

On hunger strike for over 270 days, Soltan’s life is believed to be in danger. He is the son of jailed Muslim Brotherhood leading figure Salah Soltan.

Soltan is being tried alongside the Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and 49 others for managing an “operations room” following the dispersal of the two pro-Mursi camps in August 2013. The defendants are accused of using the operations room to “resist the state and spread chaos.”

Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters have often found themselves behind bars and facing courts since the ouster of Brotherhood member and former President Mursi in July last year. A court in Minya has served over 1000 Brotherhood supporters preliminary death sentences in March and April 2014.

The Brotherhood itself was listed as a terrorist organisation in December last year.

Source : Aswat Masriya