WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, on Thursday made the following statement after receiving a report from the U.S. Department of State that, in the months before Mustafa Kassem’s death, the Egyptian government sat on paperwork that could have led to his release. Kassem would have been eligible for deportation once this paperwork to renounce his Egyptian citizenship had been finalized:
“I’m extremely troubled that the Egyptian government chose to sit on the paperwork to release Mustafa Kassem for months, essentially sealing his fate to die in their prisons. Sisi has presided over a brutal crackdown on political dissent, which led to the imprisonment of Kassem and tens of thousands of other innocent people. But President Trump’s complete disregard for human rights abroad clearly sent a signal to Sisi and others that they don’t have to take American requests on these issues seriously,” said Murphy. “We can’t afford to continue abdicating our responsibility to lead globally on human rights. Today, there are still Americans unjustly held in Egyptian prisons, and we need to do everything we can to get them out of jail. Congress has conditioned $300 million of Egypt’s military aid package on human rights benchmarks—now it’s up the administration to use that authority to impose consequences and draw a harder line with Sisi. It’s past time Trump used the power Congress gave him to protect the human rights of American citizens abroad.”
Following Kassem’s death, Murphy joined a press conference with human rights advocates, U.S. citizens formerly held as political prisoners in Egypt, and other elected officials to speak out against the issue of Americans currently jailed in Egypt and dire conditions in Egyptian prisons. On Wednesday, Murphy held a press conference call to discuss the downward spiral of Middle East events—including in Egypt—which can all be attributed to the failure of Trump’s foreign policy.