US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday urged Egypt to stop unwarranted harassment of US citizens in the North African country in the wake of the release of a US citizen held in prison for 16 months.
Mohamed Amashah, 24, a US-Egyptian citizen, was reportedly arrested in Tahrir Square in capital Cairo for holding up a sign seeking the release of prisoners, according to human rights campaigners.
Amashah based in New Jersey protested against his detention conditions and went on hunger strike.
“We thank Egypt for securing his release and his repatriation,” Pompeo told a news conference.
“But at the same time, we urge Egyptian officials to stop unwarranted harassment of US citizens and their families who remain there,” he said.
Egypt and the US are allies but Washington repeatedly went ballistic over Egypt’s treatment of US citizens and their families.
Washington early this year protested against the death of Mustafa Kassem – a US citizen who died in prison in Egypt after going on hunger strike. Kassem was arrested in 2013 during a massive crackdown on pro-democracy activists.
Pompeo has faced mounting pressure at home for Washington’s silent on Egypt’s human rights record and treatment of US citizens.
Last week, in an open letter, a group of foreign policy experts urged Pompeo to tell Egypt that cooperation including military aid will be at stake unless the government ends harassment of US citizens along with Egyptian activists and journalists, France24 reports.
“As the Trump administration tries to hold Iran and China to account for their reckless and dangerous abuses of human rights, we hope that you will hold Egypt to the same standards,” said the working group on Egypt organized under the aegis of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“Continued mass violations of human rights increase the prospect of instability in Egypt and threaten US national security interests,” they wrote.
Several other US citizens are still in Egyptian prisons.