Biden administration says torture-accused Egypt ex-PM 'had diplomatic immunity'

Biden administration asks US court to throw out case against ex-Egyptian PM accused of torture
2 min read
06 April, 2021
Plaintiff Mohamed Soltan said the US State Department has 'erred in its interpretation of the law'.
Hazem El-Beblawi is accused of ordering Mohamed Soltan's arrest, torture and attempted assassination [Getty]
The US government has said that a lawsuit against Egypt's former Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi over his alleged involvement in torture should be thrown out due to diplomatic immunity privileges he held at the time, according to a report on Monday.

US Justice Department lawyers said in a submission to the District Court in Washington DC that "El Beblawi held diplomatic status at the time when the suit was commenced" and that "claims falling with the scope of his immunity" should be dismissed, according to The Washington Post.

The lawsuit was filed against El-Beblawi by Egyptian-American activist Mohamed Soltan, who accused the politician of ordering his arrest, torture, and attempted killing.

Egyptian-American rights activist Mohamed Soltan, a former political prisoner in Egypt, filed a lawsuit against el-Beblawi in a US District Court last year.

Soltan, who is the son of a top Muslim Brotherhood leader, was detained after the 2013 military coup which brought then-military general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power.

After a 15-month hunger strike in prison, Soltan was released and deported to the US in 2015 after giving up his Egyptian citizenship.

Responding to reports about the Justice Department court submission on Monday, Beblawi said he was "deeply disappointed" with the decision.

"The Biden @StateDept has erred in its interpretation of the law, policy & moral judgement," Soltan said on Twitter.

"And in doing so, it has further endangered my life here in the US and the lives & wellbeing of my family in Egypt. We'll let the court decide. This isn't over."

Prior to his taking office, regional analysts had predicted that US President Joe Biden would take a much tougher stance on the Egyptian regime than that witnessed under former President Donald Trump.

Last year, President Biden called out the treatment of Soltan's family in a tweet.

"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'," he wrote.

In February, however, the Biden administration authorised a $200 million arms sale to Egypt, drawing criticism from rights groups who hoped Washington would apply pressure on Cairo over its human rights record.

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