A social media campaign for an Ohio State graduate imprisoned in Egypt for more than a year is trying to push for change as Mohamed Soltan nears the 365th day of his hunger strike.
Jan. 26 will mark one year since Soltan, a dual American-Egyptian citizen who graduated from OSU in 2012 with a degree in economics, began his hunger strike.
The Free Soltan campaign promotes Soltan’s release on social media and an awareness website.
The campaign uses the hashtags #SaveSoltan, #FreeSoltan and #DyingtoLive to promote awareness of the situation.
“We’ve had a telethon, passed out informational flyers at OSU and are working to release videos to help the public relate to Soltan’s situation and spread awareness,” said Abderrahmane Amor, a friend of Soltan and a second-year in public affairs and Islamic studies.
The campaign also plans to join with other anti-oppression groups in the near future, all in an effort to increase public support for Soltan and his family.
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.
President Hosni Mubarak had been overthrown during an Egyptian revolution in 2011.
Soltan was participating in a Muslim Brotherhood-led protest in a square in Cairo in August 2013 to defend democracy before he was shot in the arm. As many as 900 people were killed in the square that day, according to The New York Times.
The Muslim Brotherhood is the Islamic political party Morsi represented.
Soltan was later arrested in his home while recovering from surgery to remove the bullet.
He is currently being held in the prison hospital’s intensive care unit and receives only glucose injections, said Masoud Nafey, a member of the Free Soltan campaign and Soltan’s close friend.
“He has gone into two separate incidents of hypoglycemic comas, has shown symptoms of liver and kidney failure, has hemorrhages throughout his body and there’s also a psychological component to his torture,” Nafey said.
Soltan has been placed in solitary confinement and Nafey said he is “strapped to his hospital bed.”
Court hearings have been scheduled and postponed 25 times since Soltan’s imprisonment, Nafey said.
There are no charges against him, so he has not stood on trial, said Abrar Rageh, a member of the Free Soltan campaign.
The next court hearing will be held on Feb. 1, Rageh said.
For many of the hearings, Soltan has been hospitalized and unable to make an appearance. When present, it is with the aid of an emergency ambulance vehicle, Amor said.
Rageh said requests have been submitted for Soltan’s immediate release by lawyers in Egypt, officials from the United States Embassy, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.
So far, however, there has been no response as to whether he will be released, Rageh added.
Although no news has been received regarding his release, Soltan’s family has remained hopeful, Nafey said.
“(His family is) very optimistic about the situation,” he said. “They have incredibly strong faith and that is what is keeping them resilient to get Soltan out, God-willing.”
Soltan’s cousin, Hamza Soltan, was similarly imprisoned in Egypt under no charges and was released Wednesday, Nafey said.
The decision to release Soltan’s cousin provided hope to the Soltan family that they will see a similar result, Nafey added.
“(Mohamed Soltan’s) will is still strong, he continues his hunger strike,” he said. “Nonetheless, he is barely surviving. We can’t wait long.”
All announcements regarding Mohamed Soltan’s situation and campaign efforts are updated on the Free Soltan Facebook page and website.