US citizen to remain in Egypt detention after prosecution appeal accepted

Thursday, February 20, 2020

CAIRO -- A dual U.S.-Egyptian national who won a court order to be released from a Cairo prison will remain in jail after a prosecution appeal was accepted on Thursday, her lawyer has said.

Pennsylvania teacher Reem Desouky had been serving a pre-trial detention that is renewed periodically since she was arrested at Cairo's airport during a visit to her family in July 2019. She was accused of running a Facebook page that criticizes the government.

She had a chance to walk free on Wednesday when a court ordered her release. However, an appeal from prosecutors against her release and that of several other well-known activists was accepted one day later.

Nour Fahmy, one of the lawyers who represent Desouky in the case, told ABC News that her detention was extended for at least 45 more days."We had hopes that she would be released ... she has been detained for a long time now," he said.

Other activists who will remain in custody include Alaa Abdel-Fattah, one of the figures who spearheaded the 2011 revolution that unseated autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak.

Moustafa Hamed, Desouky's 13-year-old son, was briefly detained with his mother at the airport six months ago before being released 11 hours later. In an emotional video posted on social media more than a month following Desouky's arrest, he pleaded with U.S. president Donald Trump to help free her. Egypt has made no comments on the case.

Egyptian-American Mohamed Soltan, himself a former prisoner who now leads human rights group Freedom Initiative, which focuses on political prisoners in the Middle East, told ABC News on Wednesday that U.S. officials have been increasing pressure on Egyptian authorities to release Desouky.

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