US condemns life sentence against American in Egypt

A bleeding Egyptian riot policeman is helped by a comrade during clashes as security forces moved in to disperse supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in a huge camp near Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in eastern Cairo on August 14, 2013 (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abdel Moneim)

Washington (AFP) - The White House lashed out at Egypt for jailing a US-Egyptian citizen for life over Islamist protest violence, calling for his "immediate release."

Mohamed Soltan, who is on hunger strike, received his sentence alongside 14 other defendants who got the death penalty, including Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie.

His father Salah Soltan was among those sentenced to death.

"The United States condemns the life sentence issued today in Egypt against American citizen Mohamed Soltan," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.

"We call for Mr Soltan's immediate release from prison."

The defendants were accused of plotting unrest from their headquarters in a sprawling Cairo protest camp in the months after the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

"We remain deeply concerned about Mr Soltan's health, which has suffered during his 20 month-long incarceration," Earnest said.

"The president is deeply committed to the welfare of all US citizens abroad and we will ensure that Mr Soltan continues to receive consular support until he can return safely to the United States, per his wishes."

The Rabaa al-Adawiya protest camp in Cairo was dispersed by police on August 14, 2013 in a 12-hour operation that left hundreds of protesters and about 10 policemen dead.

Mohamed Soltan was shot in the arm and arrested days later as police hunted down Islamist activists who had fled the protest camp.