American citizen released from Egyptian jail after hunger strike

American citizen released from Egyptian jail after hunger strike
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A 24-year-old medical student from New Jersey was released from Egyptian custody on Sunday after going on a hunger strike in March.

ABC News reported that Mohamed Amashah, an Egyptian American with dual citizenship, flew to the U.S. on Monday after his release a day earlier. He was first imprisoned in April 019 for holding a sign in Cairo's Tahrir Square reading "Freedom to All Prisoners," according to a human rights group representing him.

"Yesterday Egyptian-American political prisoner Mohamed Amashah was released from Egyptian prisons after 486 days of arbitrary detention," the Freedom Initiative said in a statement obtained by ABC. "Mohamed landed in Dulles International Airport this morning and returned home to Jersey City, New Jersey to be with his loved ones."

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"Amashah was forced to recuse his Egyptian Citizenship in exchange for his freedom. This allowed the government to use the foreigner deportation law to deport him out of the country," the Freedom Initiative's head added to ABC in an interview. "His release comes as a result of private and public pressure on the Egyptian government by the U.S. administration and bipartisan congressional members in key committees demanding his release."

Amashah reportedly began a hunger strike earlier this year amid fears that he would contract the coronavirus in Egypt's cramped prisons, which Egyptian authorities have reportedly denied face any outbreak of the virus.

His release follows the death of Mustafa Kassem, another American who went on a hunger strike in an Egyptian prison in January after more than six years in prison. Other Americans also remain imprisoned in the country on various charges, with rights groups accusing the country of issuing trumped-up charges against dissidents.

Egyptian authorities eventually relented and granted Amashah's release due to months of pressure from the Trump administration, the Freedom Initiative added to The New York Times.

The State Department commended his release in a separate statement to the Times.

“We welcome the release of U.S. citizen Mohamed Amashah from Egyptian custody, and thank Egypt for its cooperation in his repatriation,” the department said.