Press Conference On The Death Of Mustafa Kassem

. . . Dirksen Senate Office Building

We are here to remember Mustafa Kassem, an American citizen who died in an Egyptian prison for no reason.  His death should be ruled a homicide.  It was as preventable as his imprisonment was unlawful. 

Over the past several years, I and other U.S. officials urged President Sisi to release Mr. Kassem.  He was convicted, along with 700 others, after a sham trial.  He was innocent.  No evidence was presented to support the charges against him.

This is an unforgiveable travesty, for which President Sisi is personally responsible and must be accountable.  He stubbornly refused to act despite the entreaties of the international community, including the United States, from which his government receives $1.5 billion in aid each year. 

In fact, Egypt has received more than $80 billion in U.S. aid over the past 70 years.  Yet that was not enough to save Mr. Kassem, because the White House refused to use its leverage to obtain his release.

Instead, President Trump has called President Sisi a “great friend” and his “favorite dictator.”  That is as appalling as it is insulting to the families of President Sisi’s victims. 

Egypt today is a military dictatorship.  Corruption is rampant.  The press is under the control of the government.  Dissent is met with arrest, torture, and prolonged imprisonment.  Yet the White House has kept the aid flowing.  

It is high time that the Congress, and the White House, put a stop to this.  Our greatest strength is our values, but only if we stand up for them.  There must be a consequence.  A consequence that serves as a strong reminder to President Sisi that he can no longer flaunt the rule of law with impunity.

There are other Egyptian-Americans, and Egyptians who are eligible for Permanent Residence in the U.S., who are languishing in prison, victims of similar miscarriages of justice.  They should be released immediately.

I want to express my condolences to Mustafa Kassem’s family for this tragedy.  I can assure them, and the families of others unjustly imprisoned in Egypt – whether they are Americans or Egyptians – that we will do whatever we can to help them. 

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Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693