Washington Post dedicates Christmas-day column to Americans jailed abroad

December 25, 2017 – …Take the cases of Mostafa Kassem and Ahmed Etiwy, two of the U.S. citizens held by Egypt. Both have been imprisoned since 2013 after being swept up in crackdowns against protests in which they did not participate. Kassem, a 52-year-old auto-parts dealer from New York, happened to be in Egypt on the day that security forces crushed a mass sit-in in Cairo’s Rabaa Square, killing hundreds. He was not there but was stopped at a security checkpoint two miles away; when police saw his U.S. passport, they beat him up and arrested him. Etiwy, a 27-year-old student also from New York, similarly was dropping off a relative at a bus station when police stormed a nearby mosque. He was surrounded by a mob who suspected him of being a journalist, then was turned over to security forces. Kassem has never been convicted of a crime, but Etiwy was sentenced in September to five years in prison. Praveen Madhiraju of the Washington-based group Pretrial Rights International said he and two other advocates had contacted officials at the White House and National Security Council a dozen times about the cases but received no response. A letter from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to Trump in August prompted no visible action. But an Irish citizen arrested in the same mosque crackdown that swept up Etiwy was freed in October after intensive lobbying by the Irish government. Read the rest of the story on the Washington Post’s...

PRI clients in spotlight for VP Pence’s trip to Egypt

Families Of Americans Imprisoned In Egypt Pin Their Hopes On … Mike Pence …Nearly 20 U.S. citizens have become used to a different kind of Egyptian hospitality. One is a 52-year-old father who only receives his diabetes medication at random intervals, during the odd visit when prison guards decide relatives including his wife and two daughters can hand it to him. He has spent more than four years in detention without an official verdict or sentence. Another is 27 years old and desperate to complete the degree he was working on when security officers arrested him for being in the vicinity of a political protest. He had gone to the area to help his grandfather catch a bus.   The two men, Mustafa Kassem and Ahmed Etiwy, and others who have yet to be publicly identified are caught up in what rights groups call the worst wave of repression in modern Egyptian history. Advocates for them and other detainees with ties to the U.S., like a pair of green card holders with multiple family members in America, see Pence’s trip as a vital moment. It’s the last chance this year for President Donald Trump’s “America First” administration ― which loudly celebrated its role in helping one detained U.S. citizen out of Egyptian custody earlier this year ― to make a real difference on the issue.   Demands that Sisi release the jailed Americans “need not dominate the meetings nor distract from other important issues, yet can and do achieve big results,” said Praveen Madhiraju, a pro bono attorney for Kassem and Etiwy at the nonprofit Pretrial Rights International. Read...

Citizens Wrongfully Imprisoned in Egypt Sentenced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                             Monday, September 18, 2017     Contact: Jaime Horn; 917-523-0705 Jaime@NewHeightsCommunications.com   Citizens Wrongfully Imprisoned in Egypt Sentenced Egyptian Court sentences American and Solah Soltan WASHINGTON (Monday, September 18, 2017) – Today, Freedom First, and Pretrial Rights International, both nonpartisan human rights groups based in Washington D.C., that aim to highlight the suffering of tens of thousands of prisoners in Egypt released the following statement regarding today’s hearing concerning the fate of two men who have been imprisoned in Egypt since 2013: “We are heartbroken by the court’s verdict for Ahmed Etiwy,” said Praveen Madhiraju of Pretrial Rights. “He is a college student, convicted for protesting at a protest that he never attended. Having already served more than 80% of his sentence, he should be released immediately and pardoned. President Trump is meeting with President Sisi this week in New York. We urge him to put these Americans first. Not President Sisi.” “My father, Salah Soltan, was sentenced to life in prison for giving a sermon where he asked protestors to disperse, respect the curfew and governmental institutions,” said Mohamed Soltan of Freedom First.“His case has always been politicized because of who he is, not what he did. This is Sisi’s Egypt.” Both groups expressed their joy for Ibrahim Halawa’s acquittal and urged the Egyptian government to release him immediately. Ahmed Etiwy, 27 of New York was arrested with two relatives after dropping his grandfather off at a bus station outside the Al-Fath mosque. Ibrahim Halawa, 21, was arrested with three of his sisters during...