Washington is “saddened” by the death of American prisoner in Egypt


The American Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, David Schenker, announced his “deep sadness” over the death of Mustafa Qasem, an American prisoner, of Egyptian origin, in a government hospital in Egypt, after he was released from his prison south of Cairo.

“This death in detention is tragic and unjustifiable, and it should have been avoided,” Schenker told reporters at the State Department at dawn on Tuesday.

Schenker added: “I will continue to raise our serious concerns about the human rights situation and American citizens detained in Egypt on all occasions, and so will the State Department team.”

And the channel “CNN” American quoted a senior official of the US State Department, unnamed, in response to a question, in a press conference, about whether the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will face any punitive measures due to the death of Qassem.

The State Department official said it was “too early to talk about it,” noting that his country had not made a decision yet.

The American channel CNN reported that a statement issued by organizations representing Qasim and his family indicated that the cause of his death was a “heart failure.”

Since September 2018, Qasim has gone on a hunger strike, and he has only drink liquids, and last Thursday, “he stopped liquids, and soon after that he was taken to a local hospital, where he died today in the late afternoon (local time)” According to CNN.

On Monday evening, Cairo confirmed the death of the American prisoner of Egyptian descent, who had already demanded that Washington release him last December.

This came in a statement by the Egyptian Attorney General, quoted by the official news agency, shortly after the American satellite channel Al-Hurra reported that the prisoner Qassem died on Monday evening, after his “hunger strike”.

According to the Egyptian statement, “the Public Prosecutor ordered the anatomical description of the body of the convict, Mustafa Qassem Abdullah Muhammad, to determine the causes of his death.”

According to the official Egyptian source, “The deceased was transferred from Tora Prison Hospital to Cairo University Hospital on Sunday to receive treatment there, but he died today (Monday).”

Several sources, including the director of the “Baladi” Center for Rights and Freedoms, Aya Hijazi, reported the death of “Qasim” in Egyptian prisons as a result of the hunger strike.

The Egyptian judiciary had issued a sentence of “15 years” imprisonment, after he was arrested in 2013, in what is known as the issue of “ending the fourth sit-in.”

Since September 2018, Qasim has more than once gone on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment, while his lawyer, Praveen Madhirajo, warned in February 2019 that his client’s health was very poor, especially as he was constantly losing weight and hair.

And Monday, US Senator Chris Murphy, in a tweet on Twitter, said that “Qasim”, died after six years in detention “like thousands of political prisoners in the country (Egypt), should not have been arrested.”

Murphy called on his foreign minister, Mike Pompeo, to remind Egypt that “military aid is legally linked to the release of prisoners, including at least six American citizens.”

In December 2019, the US Secretary of State, to his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, expressed Washington’s concern about the conditions of press freedom, human rights, and Americans detained in Egypt, including Qasim.

Qasem sent a message to President Donald Trump and his deputy, Mike Pence, in 2018, asking them to intervene and pressure the Egyptian authorities to release him, confirming that he was on a working visit to Egypt, and he was arrested “without the right”.

Egypt rejects domestic and international human rights statements regarding a significant decline in the file of detainees’ rights, and considers them “lies.”


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