Middle East/North Africa

Egyptian court orders release of US citizen

A dual Egyptian-American citizen is being released from an Egyptian prison, the head of a Washington-based rights group told ABC News.

Mohamed Soltan said that Pennsylvania teacher Reem Desouky's release is pending an appeal from the prosecution, which will be heard on Thursday, the networks reports.

Six months ago, Desouky flew to Egypt to visit her family and was detained at the Cairo airport and accused of running a Facebook page that criticizes the government.

Soltan said that Desouky's pending release is connected to Mustafa Kassem, an American citizen who recently died in custody after a lengthy hunger strike.

"You cannot not relate [the release order] to the death of Mustafa Kassem and the U.S. pressure to free the other Americans, and she is the most prominent case after that," Soltan, who's the head of the human rights group Freedom Initiative, said.

"There is a lot of U.S. pressure, a lot of U.S. engagement ... such release orders do not come out of nowhere, things do not go that way," Soltan added.

Since President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in 2013, Egypt has shown little patience for political dissent. The crackdown has led advocate groups to point fingers at Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi for leading the charge, but Egyptian authorities have repeatedly said that those in custody have gone through due judicial process.

Egypt receives roughly $1.5 billion in aid from the U.S. yearly; only Israel receives more. According to Human Rights Watch, there are still at least half a dozen U.S. citizens being detained in Egyptian prisons.

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