The US Department of State is reportedly considering cutting a large chunk of its 1.3-billion-USD military aid to Egypt over the death of an American taxi driver in a Cairo prison in January.
Mustafa Kassem, a 54-year-old Egyptian-American cab driver, reportedly died of heart failure on 13th January while on hunger strike in prison.
His lawyer claimed the New York taxi driver, who had other underlying health conditions, died while the Egyptian authorities ignored his release forms.
While visiting his wife and children in Cairo in 2013, the naturalised US citizen was reportedly arrested at a demonstration on Rabaa Square.
He was then held without charges for five years before being sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2018 in a mass trial with hundreds of other defendants charged with trying to overthrow the government, according to reports.
Kassem always maintained his innocence and said that he did not take part in the demonstrations.
Four sources told Foreign Policy magazine that a memo from the US State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs to Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state America is considering slashing up to 300 million USD (241 million GBP) in military aid to Egypt over Kassem’s death.
Reports added that Egypt typically enjoys a good relationship with the US and was the second largest recipient of US military aid.
President Donald Trump has been accused of overlooking human rights violation in Egypt, a country linking northeast Africa with the Middle East, in the past and he has repeatedly praised Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
According to reports, Democratic senators Patrick Leahy and Chris Van Hollen urged Pompeo to withhold 300 million USD in aid, in accordance with laws passed since the Arab Spring, back in February.
The senators also called for sanctions against the Egyptian officials responsible for the taxi driver’s imprisonment and subsequent death in custody.
It is unclear whether the senators’ letter influenced the memo sent by the State Department in March.
Pompeo and US Vice President Mike Pence both tried to secure Kassem’s release before his death, according to local media.
Prior to the incident, the US authorities had reportedly been discussing expanding military aid to Egypt by several billion USD.
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