Ohio State graduate Mohamed Soltan was freed from an Egyptian prison Saturday and is expected to be on his way back to the United States.
Soltan spent nearly two years in prison, and received a life imprisonment sentence in April.
Soltan was arrested in Egypt in August 2013 after the military coup and overthrow of former President Mohammed Morsi. Morsi’s time in office was filled with political unrest amongst citizens, despite his being the first democratically elected Egyptian president.
Soltan was participating in a protest led by the Muslim Brotherhood, the political party to which Morsi was a leading member, in a square in Cairo in August of that year to defend democracy when he was shot in the arm. As many as 900 people were killed in the square that day, according to The New York Times.
Soltan was later arrested in his home while recovering from surgery to remove the bullet. He has been imprisoned on charges of being involved with a terrorist organization and spreading false news to foreign media, said Masoud Nafey, a close friend and member of the Free Soltan campaign.
Soltan also began a hunger strike Jan. 26, 2014, according to Omar Soltan, Mohamed’s brother.
Since the verdict, the U.S. Government repeatedly asked for Soltan’s release. It was not until Saturday that he was deported back home, according to a statement from Omar Soltan.
“His release was just about time,” said Abderrahmane Amor, a friend of Mohamed Soltan and a third-year in public affairs and Islamic studies at OSU. “The Egyptian government is corrupt and the Department of State asked for his release but they still took their time.”
Soltan’s release was finalized when he agreed to give up his Egyptian passport, according to Amor.
The Free Soltan campaign, as well as Soltan’s family, has thanked all supporting the cause via social media.
“We are forever indebted to the countless individuals who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to secure his release, the vast majority of whom have never even met Mohamed,” Omar Soltan said in a statement.
Omar Soltan said in the statement that “Mohamed’s health is dire” and that once back in the U.S., Soltan will receive medical treatment and will spend time recovering with his family.