WASHINGTON, DC, 17 February 2021 – Many family members of Egyptian-American human rights activist Mohamed Soltan have been detained after raids Sunday on their homes.
The raids by Egyptian authorities targeted the homes of six of Soltan’s relatives in Mounofiya and Alexandria, according to a statement by Freedom Initiative, the organization founded by the activist.
Two of Soltan’s cousins – Mostafa Soltan and Khairi Soltan – have been detained and a third cousin of his – Ahmed Soltan – was questioned and instructed to turn himself in once he heals from a broken leg he was suffering from before the raids.
Soltan’s father was already in jail and on Tuesday media reports said he had been moved to an undisclosed location.
Soltan’s father, a Muslim Brotherhood member, is one of those targeted early in al-Sisi’s reign.
Initially condemned to death, the sentence on Soltan’s father was later changed to a life sentence in prison.
Soltan himself was arrested, tortured, endured a 489-day hunger strike and was sentenced to life in prison after being shot by security forces during a protest against the military’s takeover.
The venue of the protest where he was arrested became the site of a massacre of hundreds of opponents of Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former army general.
Soltan is back in the United States after being released and deported back to the United States in 2015, almost two years after he was first thrown into prison.
and one of his lawyers was cited Tuesday as saying the raids and arrests were part of a campaign against the family to try to silence him.
“Now the Egyptian regime is arresting his relatives to try to intimidate him into silence,” said Soltan’s lawyer Eric Lewis.
Al-Sisi came to power in 2013 and his opponents and rights campaigners have accused him of presiding over “a brutal crackdown that has seen tens of thousands of political opponents and rights activists rounded up, arrested, jailed and killed”.