Egyptian activist Mohamed Soltan refuses to drop Egypt nationality
Mohamed Soltan, son of senior Muslim Brotherhood member Salah Soltan, told judges in a Cairo court that he would not waive his Egyptian nationality in return for his freedom.
The younger Soltan is accused – along with 50 others, including his father and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie – of setting up an "operations room" from which to carry out attacks on state institutions following the ouster of elected President Mohamed Morsi by the army in mid-2013.
President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi approved a law in late 2014 allowing the repatriation of foreign defendants to their home countries for trial.
The law was applied to Australian journalist Peter Greste, who had worked for Qatar's Al-Jazeera channel, earlier this year.
Another journalist Mohamed Fahmy implicated in the same case who held dual Egypt-Canada nationality also had to give up his Egyptian citizenship so as to be allowed to travel to Canada for trial there. Fahmy, however, remains in Egypt where the trial was postponed yet again on Sunday after key prosecution witnesses failed to attend for the second time. A court last month released Fahmy, and his Egyptian colleague Baher Mohamed, on bail after over 400 days in detention.
Both journalists – along with others – were accused of spreading "fabricated news" about Egypt.
On Monday, an emaciated Solan – said to be on partial hunger strike for 408 days – sat in a wheelchair and demanded his release.
He said he had been in jail for almost a year and a half, despite his lack of affiliation with any political group.
He claimed to have experienced "numerous types of torture," both physical and psychological, which had prompted him to go on hunger strike.
"Why should young people be treated this unjustly?" Soltan asked the court judges. "Those to whom evil is done do evil in return."
He said he was being forced to choose between his freedom and his nationality, which he described as a "hard choice". The activist had previously appealed directly to the US government, asking US President Barack Obama to intervene.
Since Morsi's ouster by the army in mid-2013, thousands of his supporters have been jailed by the Egyptian authorities.