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Egyptian-American hunger striker Mohamed Soltan was shown bleeding from the mouth in a photo posted on social media Tuesday — an apparent deterioration of his health under Egyptian custody.
Soltan, son of an imprisoned Muslim Brotherhood leader, was arrested in August 2013 during a rally calling for the reinstatement of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
Soltan was charged with terror-related offenses, including setting up an operations room at Rabaa al-Adawiya Square during a weeks-long sit-in before security forces stormed the square on Aug. 14.
In Soltan’s court appearance in January 2014, Egypt’s public prosecutor did not present evidence incriminating him in an operations room plot, the Washington Post reported. The judge, nonetheless, decided to extend the 27-year-old's detention. Soltan responded by launching a hunger strike.
In a statement, Soltan’s family said they are “pleading with Mohamed to break his strike due to his dire condition, the increased torture tactics being used against him, and the suicide attempt narrative being pushed by the authorities.”
“Mohamed has been refusing to break it,” but has agreed to intake a sufficient amount of liquids including milk and honey, the family said.
During the court appearance, Soltan explained why he was refusing to eat: “Because striking is the only peaceful means left to me to resist injustice and oppression, because opinion or thought or even sympathy is not a crime.”
“Because I refuse to relinquish any part of my Egyptian or American identity, because I love this country, no matter who wrongs me, and I also love America,” Soltan added.
Shortly after the May court date, Soltan's brother Omar said doctors told him that Soltan "can die any day now because his blood levels are in such a critical state right now that if he just gets hurt, he could bleed to death."
In October 2014, Soltan was taken to a Cairo hospital after losing consciousness and bleeding from his nose and mouth. Doctors at Tora Prison told Soltan, “If you die here, we’ll write that it was suicide,” the family said in statement at the time.
"The charges against him do not constitute a recognizable criminal offense," Amnesty International said in a statement that month.
In December 2014, a U.S. State Department official told Al Jazeera in a statement: “The United States has requested the release of Mr. Soltan on bail on humanitarian grounds…We remain deeply concerned about Mr. Soltan’s health, and are aware of reports that he recently slipped in and out of a coma."
"We are investigating these reports and will continue to provide Mr. Soltan with all possible consular services,” the statement said.