Last year, Egyptian authorities jailed an American citizen for a minor crime. The detainee has since written to President Donald Trump, asking him for help — but the Trump administration is mum on the case.
Police arrested Ahmed Hassan, then 17 years old, after he tried to prevent his uncle from being arrested for a minor building code violation in President General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s regime, which is known for its human rights violations. A judge handed him a one-year sentence and the teenager has been in the jail since then.
Being an American citizen, Hassan wrote to President Donald Trump in March, informing him about his case.
“I am proud to be an American. I beg you to defend my right to be free,” he wrote, according to the letter obtained by the HuffPost.
His lawmakers have also reportedly tried to seek help from the Trump administration several times, but the administration and the commander-in-chief have done nothing so far.
Hassan just turned 18 in the Egyptian jail, and wants the U.S. government to help him set free.
“Six months of my life have been wasted with no reason,” Hassan told HuffPost. “Today’s my birthday and I’m in jail right now. ... I’m so sad, and physically I’m just down.”
The young man is believed to one of the 20 Americans held by the Cairo government, which according to the human rights advocates is the cruelest crackdown in recent Egyptian history.
Last month, Trump met Sisi but did not talk about human right abuses conducted by his Egyptian counterpart. There was some celebration because Trump apparently played an important role in the release of an Egyptian-American charity worker, Aya Hijazi, but it was later discovered her release had been agreed before both the leaders met.
There has been no progress for the other detainees held in Egyptian prisons since then.
“The U.S. embassy in Cairo didn’t do anything for me,” Hassan lamented. “They came to see me for just two minutes and sat in the office of the police officer. They didn’t see where I am, where I live, where I eat. ... Just came to say, hello, how’s it going?”
He also mentioned how he has been sleeping in a cramped place with 23 adult men and surviving on small portions of bread.
Hassan’s family moved from New Jersey to Egypt a couple of years ago, but his relatives are allowed to meet him for just a few minutes each week.
“Because I’m an American citizen, they don’t want to do anything easy to me. They didn’t want me to get out,” he said. “When they know that I’m an American citizen, they tell me: ‘You think that because you’re an American citizen you will get out? You will still be in jail.’”
Hassan hopes to further his studies after being released. But for now there is not much to show that Trump administration has taken any serious steps regarding his case.
New Jersey senators Cory Booker (D) and Bob Menendez (D), along with Rep. Frank LoBiondo (NJ-R), have asked the president to raise the matter during his meeting with Sisi in Saudi Arabia recently.
Hassan’s lawyer, Praveen Madhiraju of the nonprofit Pretrial Rights International, told HuffPost he had not heard that Trump acted on the request.