U.S. citizen dies in Egyptian prison after hunger strike
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CAIRO — A U.S. citizen who went on a hunger strike and who claimed he was wrongfully imprisoned in Egypt died after spending six years behind bars, the State Department said.
Mustafa Kassem, 54, an Egyptian-born auto parts dealer from Long Island, New York, died of heart failure after a hunger strike he began last year to protest his unjust incarceration, his lawyers said.
“His death in custody was needless, tragic and avoidable,” Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker told reporters. “I will continue to raise our serious concerns about human rights and Americans detained in Egypt at every opportunity.”
Egypt's chief prosecutor ordered an autopsy and investigation into Kassem's medical condition, and confirmed Tuesday that he had been transferred from the prison to Cairo University hospital, where he died.
Kassem was in Cairo to visit family in August 2013 when his lawyers say he was mistakenly swept up in a vast dragnet during the violent dispersal of an Islamist sit-in that killed hundreds of people.
That summer, security forces descended on supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, in what became known as the “Rabaa Massacre."
Kassem was exchanging money at a shopping mall near Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square when police stopped him and asked to see identification. When he handed over his U.S. passport, officers suddenly started beating him, and detained him. He was ...
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