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Detained Egyptian Legal Scholar at Risk of Death

Photo credits: Human Rights Watch

On May 5th, 2023, Endangered Scholars Worldwide learned that Salah Soltan, an Egyptian legal scholar and US permanent resident, has been deprived of his right to life-saving healthcare in the country’s notorious Badr 1 prison. Soltan was arrested in 2013 and in 2017 was sentenced to life imprisonment in a mass trial. He suffers from heart and liver diseases, diabetes, and Hepatitis C among other complex health issues. Human Rights Watch has warned that this deliberate denial of adequate healthcare may amount to torture.

Soltan, a former professor of Islamic Law at Cairo University, also founded and served as president of the Islamic American University in Michigan from 1999 to 2004. He lived and worked for more than 10 years in the United States before his arrest in 2013 for opposing the ousting of the democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi. In 2018, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared his arrest and incarceration as arbitrary because no credible evidence was presented and furthermore determined that his rights of political participation, expression, and speech were violated. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, among other human rights groups, believe that the arrest was also in retaliation to his son’s human rights advocacy work. Soltan’s family have claimed that he was held incommunicado in 2017 multiple times and for several months and filed a lawsuit against the former Egyptian prime minister for his role in Sultan’s alleged torture in 2013. He has been held in solitary confinement since September 2022 in Badr prison.

Badr 1 prison is located in the Badr prison complex, 70 kilometers outside Cairo. The prison complex is among the 28 new prisons built under the instruction of President Sisi. Badr prison is particularly notorious for housing high-profile political prisoners. The conditions of the prison have led to mass hunger strikes and numerous deaths. The prisoners are reportedly subjected to inadequate healthcare, bans on family visits, solitary confinement, and torture, including constant surveillance and deprivation of food and water.

Endangered Scholars Worldwide is alarmed and deeply concerned with the conditions under which Soltan and other political prisoners are being held in Egypt. ESW joins the 51 human rights organizations to urge the Egyptian authorities to vacate the sentence of the arbitrarily detained activist and to grant him immediate release. We further call on the Egyptian government to investigate the deplorable conditions and the allegations of abuse in Badr prison that Soltan and other political prisoners have been subjected to, and to fulfill its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that enshrines the right to life and of which Egypt is a signatory.

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