- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 19, 2020

An American citizen who died Jan. 13 after six years of imprisonment in Egypt was the subject of sharp words on Sunday from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Egyptian government officials during a summit in Berlin to discuss peaceful solutions for Libya.

During a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, Secretary Pompeo expressed outrage over the “pointless and tragic death” of detained Egyptian-American Mustafa Kassem, U.S. State Department officials said.

Mr. Kassem, 54, went on a hunger strike in September 2018 to protest his conviction and 15-year prison sentence following his arrest during a government crackdown on dissent. A New York resident, he was in Egypt in August 2013 and was “in the wrong place, at the wrong time,” supporters said.

Egyptian officials rounded him up as suspected backer of ousted president Mohammad Morsi. Family members said he had been trying to change currency at a local mall before returning home to the United States when he was swept up by Egyptian authorities.

His brother-in-aw, Mostafa Ahmad, later told Newsday that Mr. Kassem presented his passport to the police to no avail. He was beaten and then detained.

Mr. Kassem has had supporters in Washington, including Vice President Mike Pence and Rep. Peter King, New York Republican.

“Sanctions must be imposed on Egypt and (government) officials who carried this out or allowed it to happen,” Mr. King said on his Twitter page.

However, President Trump has often praised his counterpart, Egyptian President el-Sisi, so it’s unclear if any action will be taken.

After expressing his outrage over the death of Mr. Kassem, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. el-Sisi agreed with what they referred to as an “urgent need” for a ceasefire in Libya and a return to a U.N.-brokered political process. Both men also expressed how destabilizing any foreign interference would be.

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