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US says former Egyptian prime minister enjoyed diplomatic immunity from prosecution court news




Egyptian-American Mohamed Soltan has filed a US lawsuit against Hazem el-Beblawi, alleging his participation in torture in Egypt.

The Biden administration said a lawsuit to hold former Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi accountable for his alleged involvement in the torture of an Egyptian-American activist should be dismissed because he enjoyed the diplomatic immunity, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

In a brief presented to the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, shared by The Washington Post, attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice said El Beblawi had diplomatic status at the time the lawsuit was brought and that the court should reject complaints falling within the scope of its immunity.

El-Beblawi had been the Egyptians’ representative to the International Monetary Fund, but resigned and left the United States in late October, the Washington Post reported.

The ministry said in its court file that it was not rendering any judgment on the merits of the case itself.

Egyptian-American human rights activist Mohamed Soltan, a former political prisoner in Egypt, filed a lawsuit against el-Beblawi in the United States District Court last year, accusing the former prime minister for ordering his arrest, torture and attempted assassination.

Soltan was arrested during a brutal crackdown in Cairo in 2013.

In a statement shared on Twitter on Monday, Soltan said he was deeply disappointed with the Biden administration’s stance, saying he erred in his interpretation of law, politics and moral judgment.

And in doing so, it further endangered my life here in the United States, as well as the life and well-being of my family in Egypt. We will allow the court to resolve the issue of immunity, as my case is still viable, active and timely. This case is not over, Soltan said.

The Biden @StateDept erred in its interpretation of the law, politics and moral judgment.

And in doing so, it endangered my life here in the United States and the life and well-being of my family in Egypt.

Well, let the court decide. It is not finished.

My full statement

Mohamed Soltan | (@soltan) April 5, 2021

Soltan, the son of a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood which Egypt banned, was arrested in August 2013 after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi led the military overthrow of President-elect Mohamed Morsi.

Soltan was released in 2015 after a 15-month hunger strike and deported to the United States after renouncing his Egyptian citizenship.

Since taking office, US President Joe Biden has faced growing calls to denounce human rights abuses in Egypt, a longtime US ally in the Middle East, and to adopt a different approach to the bilateral relationship than his predecessor, former President Donald Trump.

Trump had praised el-Sisi, calling him his favorite dictator.

Human rights groups have for years criticized the Egyptian government for suppressing dissenting voices, including journalists, human rights activists and suspected political opponents. Around 60,000 people are believed to be detained in the country.

In recent months, Egyptian human rights defenders in the United States, including Soltan, have accused Egypt of targeting relatives to silence them, prompting Biden to speak out.

In July of last year, while on the trail of the presidential campaign, Biden tweeted: No more blank checks for Trump’s favorite dictator.

But his administration in February authorized the sale of $ 200 million in arms to Egypt, saying the country continues to be an important strategic partner in the Middle East.

Officials in the Biden administration, however, have pledged to put pressure on Cairo on human rights.

Last month, in a rare public demonstration of criticism of Egypt at the United Nations human rights agency, the United States was among 31 signatories calling on the government to el- Sisi to end his campaign against civil society groups and activists, and to lift restrictions on freedoms of expression and assembly.

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