Mohamed Soltan’s case adjourned, health worsens

A Cairo court adjourned the case of hunger striking detainee Mohamed Soltan on Tuesday to October 11, his relative and solidarity campaign said.

Soltan, an Egyptian-American, is on his 239th day of hunger strike. According to a campaign advocating for his release, his health has deteriorated badly and his life is now at risk.

Sarah Mohamed, a relative of Soltan, was at the court on Tuesday, but was denied entry to the police-controlled courtroom, despite having a press card and being a relative. She said that Soltan was transferred to the courtroom in an ambulance, but according to policemen, he refused to enter the case.

Other journalists and attendees were denied entry according to Mohamed, including the US consul.

The session ended shortly after it started with Judge Mohamed Nagui Shehata adjourning it. Shehata is the judge who ruled in the notorious Al-Jazeera international case, in which journalists Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste were handed jailtime ranging from seven to 10 years.

In an email to Mada Masr, Habiba Shebata, a member of Soltan’s solidarity campaign, said that he was found unconscious in his cell, profusely bleeding from his mouth. He was then moved to the prison hospital and put on IV.

“The doctors found that his blood pressure was at a very low 70/30 (normal: 119/79), as were his glucose levels at 45 (normal: around 70). His INR levels were crucially high, meaning the risk of bleeding and bleeding-related events is highly probable and extremely dangerous,” Shebata wrote.

According to Mohamed, in his last visit to hospital on Sunday, a doctor told Soltan’s father, “I don’t know how your son has remained alive until now.”

Soltan has several blue marks under his skin, which is a symptom of internal bleeding, a problem he has had before. In June, a US Embassy physician, Fatma Bayad, stated that this is concerning.  Soltan previously had two strokes due to a birth defect. Bayad warned that this condition and the hunger strike could be a lethal mix.

Last Friday, Amnesty International issued a press release demanding Soltan’s release due to the “imminent risk of organ failures.” In the press release, Amnesty International quoted the deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa program, Hassiba Hadi Sahraoui, as saying, that “denying medical care to someone who is critically ill is not just callous and cruel, but blatantly unlawful.”

“Mohamed Soltan should not have been in jail in the first place and what he is accused of should not be a criminal offense.  Now, the authorities are toying with his life in this manner,” said Sahraoui.

“He should be released without delay,” the press release added.

Soltan is the son of Salah Soltan, a known leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was arrested in August 2013 along with two friends, when the police came looking for his father. He faces charges of terrorism, plotting to overthrow the regime and setting up an operations room from where he allegedly encouraged members of the group to confront the state and spread chaos following the dispersal of the Rabea al-Adaweya and Nahda Square sit-ins in August last year.

Soltan, who used to live in the US, went to Egypt to be with his mother, who is suffering from cancer. “He came to Egypt 17 months ago, of which he was in prison for 12 months,” Mohamed said. “He keeps telling us in the visits that he is on hunger strike because he wants to be free.”

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