Leahy reacts to New York man's death in Egypt prison

Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 5:35 PM EST
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Egypt says it will investigate the death of a U.S. citizen in custody who had gone on hunger strike as part of a six-year battle against what he insisted was wrongful imprisonment.

Prosecutors say investigators are questioning doctors who had overseen the care of Mustafa Kassem, an Egyptian-born auto parts dealer from Long Island, New York.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy said Egypt is acting like a dictatorship and it's time to treat Egypt like a dictatorship.

"This death never should have happened, but this is what happens when you have a dictatorship. You remove all human rights, you make the courts a fig leaf of the government," said Leahy, D-Vermont.

Kassem's case trained a spotlight on the dangers of Egypt's prisons, where many inmates are serving time for crimes they insist they did not commit.

The State Department lamented his death, promising to raise concerns about human rights in Egypt.

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