Nepal | July 15, 2020

Egypt’s ex-PM faces torture allegation in American’s lawsuit

Associated Press
Share Now:

CAIRO: After his arrest in 2013 for documenting the deadliest crackdown on protesters in Egypt’s modern history, Mohamed Soltan landed in a notorious prison where he says he was brutally tortured for 21 months.

He never thought he’d get a chance to fight back, let alone make it out alive.

But on Monday, Soltan, a 32-year-old US citizen now living in Virginia, used a little-known federal statute to accuse former Egyptian prime minister Hazem el-Beblawi of crimes against humanity.

The law, called the 1991 Torture Victims Protection Act, allows for victims of torture and extrajudicial killings committed by foreign officials abroad to seek justice through the American court system.

It’s the first such case against an Egyptian official, made possible by the grim coincidence that el-Beblawi now lives just miles from Soltan, in Washington, where he is an executive director of the International Monetary Fund.

“He’s completely gotten away with it, and is walking free downtown,” Soltan said. “I just want to regain some of the justice and dignity stripped away from me.”

In the summer of 2013, after the military-led ouster of the country’s first democratically elected but divisive president, Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian security officers descended on a protest camp packed with his Islamist supporters, killing hundreds. Soltan, an Ohio State graduate and the son of a prominent member of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, was shot in the arm while working as a stringer for Western news organizations in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square.

Before long he was picked up by security forces. In a mass trial widely condemned by human rights groups, Soltan was sentenced to life in prison on charges of spreading “fake news” to tarnish Egypt’s image.

In the maximum-security Tora prison complex, Soltan says he endured unspeakable torments overseen by el-Beblawi and other high-ranking officers. He says he was denied medical care for his festering bullet wound, beaten to unconsciousness, held in solitary confinement and forced to listen to the sounds of his father being tortured in a nearby cell. He lost 160 pounds over the course of a 16-month hunger strike to protest his unjust imprisonment.

Under pressure from the Obama administration, Egypt released Soltan in 2015, although his father remains in prison. He has attempted to build a new life in Virginia, advocating for fellow political prisoners still in Egypt and pursuing a master’s degree at Georgetown University. But memories from his dark cell in Tora still haunt him.

“There’s this perpetual, compounded trauma every single day,” he said, “where you get up and look in the mirror and see the scars and cigarette burns and the bullet marks…it changes you.”

Eric Lewis, a lawyer with Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss, who represents Soltan, says he hopes the case sends a message to Egypt’s government “that they cannot commit crimes against humanity and then seek haven in the United States.”

An estimated 60,000 political prisoners languish in Egypt’s jails, according to Human Rights Watch, including many journalists and critics held on vague terrorism charges without trial. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who came to power in 2013, has waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent.

The lawsuit lists el-Sissi, intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and three other former senior security officials as culpable, saying that they can be served if they set foot in the United States.

El-Beblawi, contacted through the International Monetary Fund, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Manchester United, Marcus Rashford, Premier League

United stay fifth after Saints grab last-gasp leveller

MANCHESTER: Manchester United's Champions League qualification hopes suffered a blow after an equaliser deep in stoppage time from Michael Obafemi earned Southampton a 2-2 draw in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Monday. United, unbeaten in 18 games in all competitions, were poised to m Read More...

Capital budget spending at two-decade low of 40 per cent

KATHMANDU, JULY 13 With just two days remaining for the 2019-20 fiscal year to end, capital budget expenditure throughout the year stands at one of the worst ever at 39.62 per cent. Officials at the Ministry of Finance said capital expenditure during the current fiscal year, which was primaril Read More...

Mayur company resumes bus service in Kathmandu

Kathmandu, July 13 Mayur Yatayat Company resumed its bus services from today in Kathmandu valley amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision of Mayur Yatayat has come as a relief to commuters at a time when other public transportation entrepreneurs were refusing to operate their services citing f Read More...

‘Press freedom should involve accountability’

Kathmandu, July 13 Minister of Communications and Information Technology Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada said the CIT Ministry ought to start digitisation first, by utilising the advancement of information technology. As the government has adopted a digital framework, we should become paperless in our activ Read More...

Absconding murder suspect held after 13 years

Kathmandu, July 13 Police have nabbed one of the two prime murder suspects of the much-hyped Sitapaila murder case that had happened 13 years ago. Two workers at a saw mill had allegedly killed its owner, his wife and inflicted serious injuries to their 15-year-old son on the night of 2 Januar Read More...

US debates school reopening, WHO warns 'no return to normal'

MIAMI: The resurgence of the coronavirus in the United States ignited fierce debate Monday about whether to reopen schools, as global health officials warned that the pandemic will intensify unless more countries adopt comprehensive plans to combat it. “If the basics aren’t followed, there is Read More...


COVID-19 control, disaster management top priorities

Kathmandu, July 13 Tokha Municipality in Kathmandu has set priorities for containment of COVID-19 crisis and disaster management in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The municipality that is located in the northern belt of Kathmandu unveiled a budget for Rs 1.58 billion for the fiscal y Read More...

US budget deficit hits all-time high of $864 billion in June

WASHINGTON: The federal government incurred the biggest monthly budget deficit in history in June as spending on programs to combat the coronavirus recession exploded while millions of job losses cut into tax revenues. The Treasury Department reported Monday that the deficit hit $864 billion last Read More...