Hunger-striking detainee Mohamed Soltan’s lawyer, Halim Heneish, told Mada Masr that, after intense pressure from his family and due to his life-threatening condition, Soltan agreed to switch to a partial hunger strike almost a year after he started his strike in protest of his detention.
Heneish adds that the family will submit a request to judge Nagy Shehata to transfer Soltan — the longest hunger-striking detainee in Egyptian prisons — to a private hospital at the family’s expense.
A photo of Soltan, in which he appears to be unconscious and bleeding from his mouth, circulated widely on social media platforms on Tuesday.
In a statement sent to Mada Masr, Habiba Shebita, an active member of the “Free Soltan” campaign, mentioned “reports of the increased physical and psychological torture of Soltan.”
“We are petrified [at] the thought of [the] condition Mohamed is currently in and we continue to call on all human rights organizations and the US government to do whatever it takes to secure his immediate release,” the statement added. Soltan is on day 361 of his huger strike.
During a phone interview with Mada Masr, Soltan’s relative Sara Mohamed said that the family doesn’t know the source of the leaked photo.
“We don’t have details on where it came from or when it was taken. We found it online like everyone else,” she said.
Mohamed confirmed that Soltan’s health has been severely deteriorating, and that he spends his detention in solitary confinement at the Tora Prison hospital facility.
“His condition has been especially worse since his father was moved to maximum security Aqrab prison,” she added.
The statement released on Tuesday explained that Soltan’s family “has been pleading with Mohamed to break his [hunger] strike due to his dire condition, the increased torture tactics being used against him, and the suicide attempt narrative being pushed by the authorities.”
However, he reportedly refused to completely break his strike, but “agreed to begin taking in a sufficient amount of liquids.”
Soltan’s family last visited him on Saturday in prison, where he is reportedly cut off completely from the outside world, with no books or newspapers allowed into his place of detention.
“He can only find out news about what’s happening in the outside world through his family’s visits,” Mohamed explained. The family was also told that he’s been suffering from severe bouts of low blood sugar throughout the last week.
Soltan is the son of the prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader Salah Soltan. He was arrested on August 25, 2013, along with several friends when the police raided his home in search of his father.
He was charged with belonging to a terrorist organization and conspiring to overthrow the regime. Soltan and 52 other defendants are also charged with setting up an operations room to ignite chaos throughout the country during and after the pro-Brotherhood Rabea al-Adaweya sit-in in August 2013.
Soltan’s trial has been repeatedly adjourned. Despite his condition, he has attended all his court sessions. The next session is scheduled for February 1.
When asked about the possibility of a presidential pardon, Mohamed said that the family and campaign for the release of Soltan had no solid information regarding the matter.
During a meeting with Egyptian media personnel in UAE on Monday, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said that the government is preparing a file listing detained activists, bloggers and journalists who haven’t been sentenced or who have received minor sentences. The aforementioned journalists will be purportedly released on the anniversary of the January 25 revolution.