The Slatest

Egypt Court Sentences U.S. Citizen, 36 Others, to Life in Prison

Head of Giza Criminal Court, Judge Mohamed Nagy Shehata speaks during the trial of Muslim brotherhood leaders in Cairo on April 11, 2015.  

REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

A court in Cairo has sentenced an American citizen, Mohamed Soltan, to life imprisonment for allegedly supporting anti-government protests and spreading false news. The 27-year-old Ohio State University graduate is the son of a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Salah Soltan, and was sentenced along with 36 others, reports Daily News Egypt. The court also sentenced Mohamed Badie, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and 13 other members of the now-outlawed group, to death. Salah Soltan was among those sentenced to death. “The rulings are shocking,” said defense lawyer Taher Abu El-Nasr. Most sentences are expected to be appealed but it could take years to reach a final verdict, highlights Reuters.

The case is just the latest in a long string of sentences that are issued during mass trials of people accused of participating in protests. But the involvement of a U.S. citizen has brought about concern from Washington, particularly considering the verdict came days after Preisdent Obama released millions of dollars in military aid for Egypt, notes the New York Times.

Soltan has reportedly been on a hunger strike for more 14 months and his family says his health is rapidly deteriorating, reports the Associated Press. He has refused medical assistance since his father was moved to a higher security prison, where he has reportedly been denied medication. “Egyptian authorities are using my father to pressure Mohammed into ending his hunger strike, but he continues to refuse,” said Soltan’s brother Omar.

Three Egyptian journalists were also among those sentenced to life in prison today: “Abdullah al-Fakharany, executive director of the Rassd news website; Samhi Mustafa, co-founder of the website; and Mohamed al-Adly, a presenter for Amgad TV,” according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.