US Democratic candidate Joe Biden has said there will be no more “blank checks for Trump’s favourite dictator” in a widely shared Twitter post.
The comments come not long after the release of the dual US-Egypt citizen Mohamed Amashah, who spent almost 500 days in an Egyptian prison after he held a sign up in Tahrir Square which read: “Freedom for all the political prisoners.”
It’s the latest in a series of criticisms of Egypt’s human rights crackdown after last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Egypt to stop harassing US citizens.
“We thank Egypt for securing his release and repatriation,” Pompeo said at a news conference. “But at the same time, we urge Egyptian officials to stop unwarranted harassment of US citizens and their families who remain there.”
The US is one of Egypt’s key allies and supports its so-called war on terror. President Trump has referred to Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi as his “favourite dictator”.
However, several American politicians have put pressure on the US administration to leverage cooperation with Egypt on its ability to abide by human rights standards.
The Egyptian regime has imprisoned some 60,000 political prisoners who are subject to systematic torture.
Mohamed Amashah is finally home after 486 days in Egyptian prison for holding a protest sign. Arresting, torturing, and exiling activists like Sarah Hegazy and Mohamed Soltan or threatening their families is unacceptable. No more blank checks for Trump’s “favorite dictator.” https://t.co/RtZkbGh6ik
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) July 12, 2020
Last week a group of experts called on Pompeo to tell Egypt that military aid is at stake unless the regime stops its crackdown on activists and journalists.
Since 1980 the US has provided Egypt with some $40 billion of military aid. Experts say leveraging this money on a promise to abide by human rights could ease the crackdown in Egypt.
Instead, continuing to hand over $1.3 billion a year has given the regime a green light to pursue activists, for example Sarah Hegazy, who was imprisoned and tortured after she raised a rainbow flag at a concert in 2017.
Sarah committed suicide in June after suffering severe post-traumatic stress disorder from her incarceration.
The Egyptian regime have begun cracking down on the families of American citizens living abroad.
The brother of Reem Desouky, who was released in May, is currently in Tora Prison to stop her speaking out about the details of her imprisonment and whether or not she was tortured.
Similarly, five of Mohamed Soltan’s relatives were imprisoned after the former political prisoner filed a lawsuit against Egypt’s former prime minister, accusing him of directing torture against him.
The regime told his family that they would drop charges against his relatives if he withdrew the lawsuit.