CAIRO: The family of detained activist Mohamed Soltan will organize a rally to support him centered at the Press Syndicate on Monday evening, the Freedom for the Brave movement defending prisoners announced Sunday.
“Free Soltan ” will be a global event, as Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington, D.C., called for a demonstration at the house of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. “We will be calling on the secretary to demand Mohamed’s release,” Mogahed posted on her Twitter account.
On Aug. 25, Soltan will have completed a year in prison without trial. He has been on a hunger strike and in deteriorating health for more than 200 days. Considered a prisoner of conscience, his case has sparked controversy and has often been linked in the media to the case of journalist Abdullah Elshamy.
Soltan and Elshamy were partners in hunger strikes. They were arrested around the same time amid widespread arrests that took place following the dispersal of the Muslim Brotherhood’s sit-ins at Rabaa al-Adaweya Mosque and Nahda Square in Cairo in August 2013.
International and local human rights groups and activists followed the cases and demonstrated to pressure authorities to release Elshamy and Soltan . Protesters rallied last April in front of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. demanding the release of Soltan .
Elshamy worked as a journalist for Al Jazeera and was released in June following widespread international support. Soltan , on the other hand, was taken from his home, following the detention of his father Salah Soltan , an Islamist preacher with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
According to his brother Omar, Soltan was critical of former President Mohamed Morsi’s regime, but joined the protests in Rabaa following Morsi’s ouster and volunteered to report to foreign media.
Soltan is Egyptian but holds an American passport as well. Last May, Soltan attempted a rescue appeal to the U.S. government through a video message recorded inside his prison cell, in which he criticized the U.S. government, saying, “Is my life not worth anything to you?”
Virtual campaigns against Soltan detention have also spread on the Internet. On Twitter, #FreeSoltan and #DyingToLive are two popular trends to follow updates in Soltan case, in addition to an Internet petition demanding pressure on Egyptian authorities to release Soltan .