The Washington Post reports: Tears, tight hugs and cries of “Welcome home” greeted a frail American citizen on his sudden return to the United States on Saturday night after nearly two years spent in an Egyptian jail cell.
It was a surreal homecoming for Mohamed Soltan, 27, a citizen journalist and activist who survived a year-long hunger strike and a life sentence, only to be whisked from his cell and later onto a plane bound for Washington, the product of months of advocacy by his family and quiet, frantic negotiations between the U.S. government and Egypt, his family said.
Soltan, an Ohio State University graduate who was once chubby and energetic, entered the arrivals area of Dulles International Airport on Saturday night in a wheelchair, his frail frame quickly mobbed by family and cheering friends.
He clutched his 1-year-old nephew for the first time and the tears came. Then a fierce embrace from his sisters, and then came the sobs.
In a surprise move, Egyptian authorities on Saturday had quietly shuttled him onto an airplane and sent him home to be with his family in Virginia.
In April, a Cairo court sentenced Soltan to life in prison for his support of the protests that followed the group’s overthrow, including financing a weeks-long sit-in and “spreading false news” in his role as unofficial spokesman of the protest.
It was unclear what ultimately decided Soltan’s release. There was no court ruling to reverse his April sentence to life in prison and no formal announcement of clemency from Egypt’s president. [Continue reading…]