American in Egyptian prison pleads to Trump: ‘I pray that you secure my freedom’


An American citizen jailed in Egypt is pleading for President Trump and Vice President Pence to free him, according to two letters obtained by ABC News Wednesday.

Mustafa Kassem, who has been in jail for five years and still has 15 years left on his sentence, sent two letters to the administration describing how he was arrested by Egyptian security officials amid a mass crackdown on opposition voices.

{mosads}Kassem, who worked as a taxicab driver in New York, was convicted of trying to overthrow the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in a trial with more than 700 other co-defendants when visiting his wife and two children in August 2013.

“Dear President Trump: As an American beginning the hunger strike that could leave my two young children without a father and make my wife a widow, I pray that you secure my freedom from an Egyptian prison and government that you just gave $1.2 billion,” ABC News quoted one of the two letters as saying.

He has also recently started a hunger strike because “I am losing my will and don’t know how else to get your attention,” according to ABC News, though his family has urged him to stop as the 53-year-old diabetic’s health is deteriorating.

Kassem admits that his strategy is endangering his health says he will continue.

“I want my children to know that I fought tooth and nail for my freedom. I want them to know America is great because our government will fight tooth and nail for its citizens,” he wrote in the letter addressed to Pence.

Despite health concerns, Kassem said he has been denied regular treatment, including insulin injections, while in jail. 

Pence said that he raised the issue of Kassem’s imprisonment when meeting with Sisi in Cairo in January. Kassem thanked Pence for these efforts, saying that they represented “little rays of light” and hope that “my government still cared for me.”

“But since January, I have seen no change and little action from either the Egyptian government or our government,” he wrote to Pence in the new letter. “I am losing hope that you and our government are willing to take a hard stance and secure my freedom.”

Trump’s administration has received criticism for its friendly treatment of Egypt. Trump called Sisi a “fantastic guy” and in July released $195 million in military aid to Egypt.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

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