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 on U.S. citizens currently held in Egypt, including Mohamed Amashah, who was detained last year:
“I’m deeply troubled by the number of American citizens still being held in Egyptian prisons, including Mohamed Amashah. After the tragic and entirely preventable death of Mustafa Kassem earlier this year, I worry about Amashah’s condition—especially with his hunger strike and the way the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on prisons,” said Murphy. “There are at least six American political prisoners in Egypt, and we’re now in real danger of another American needlessly dying under Sisi’s watch. Egypt’s human rights record is abysmal and it’s infuriating to me that the United States has imposed zero consequences on the Egyptian government more than three months after Kassem’s death. Instead, the administration continues to write them checks without enforcing the human rights conditions attached to Egypt’s aid package. That’s why I’ll continue to make the case to my colleagues that we must take a tougher line on our military aid to Egypt as we look towards our next appropriations bill for the U.S. State Department and foreign operations.”
This month, Murphy led a bipartisan call with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to strongly press foreign governments to immediately release political prisoners detained abroad in order to protect them from COVID-19. Murphy has also been vocal in pressuring the U.S. State Department on U.S. citizens detained in Egypt. Earlier this year, Murphy called on Secretary Pompeo to condition $300 million of Egypt’s military air package on human rights benchmarks.