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US Prisoner Freed by Egypt Returns Home

  • VOA News

An Egyptian-American prisoner freed by Egypt after it jailed him for nearly two years for his alleged involvement in the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood has returned to the United States.

Frail-looking Mohamed Soltan was embraced with tears and hugs from relatives and friends as he arrived Saturday at Washington's Dulles International Airport.

FILE - Mohammed Soltan is pushed by his father, Salah, during a court appearance in Cairo, Egypt, March 9, 2015.

FILE - Mohammed Soltan is pushed by his father, Salah, during a court appearance in Cairo, Egypt, March 9, 2015.

Cairo authorities forced the 27-year-old Soltan to relinquish his Egyptian citizenship before allowing him to leave Egypt.

He had been on a hunger strike for more than 16 months to protest his extended detention and his family said his health has been deteriorating rapidly. He was in a wheelchair as he greeted well-wishers at the airport and his family said he would get medical treatment in the U.S.

Soltan, an Ohio State University graduate who had campaigned for President Barack Obama's election, was convicted, and given a life prison sentence, on charges of financing an anti-government sit-in in Egypt and spreading "false news" during the 2013 military overthrow of elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. His father Salah, a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been sentenced to death.

Mohamed Soltan had been working as an assistant and translator for U.S. and international news organizations during the protests. He was one of thousands imprisoned during the military takeover that eventually led to the election of the country's defense chief, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, as president.

The U.S. State Department welcomed his release, saying it was glad he would be reunited with his family in the United States. Soltan's family thanked those who had sought his release, including the U.S. government, which had made extensive efforts to free him.

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