American Health Food Exporter Speaks Out About Month Long Ordeal in Egyptian Jail for Importing Nutritious Hemp Food

Feb 03, 2011, 18:45 ET from Hemp Industries Association

Hemp Industry Asks U.S. Department of State to Help Innocent Man in Limbo

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), the nation's leading trade organization working to promote non-drug industrial hemp, learned last week of the plight of Mostafa Soliman, an America citizen who has lived in the U.S. for 40 years and was wrongly imprisoned by Egyptian authorities on December 30, 2010 for importing organic hemp seed oil used in salads, and other healthy recipes.    If convicted, he is potentially facing death by hanging.  

After almost a month in jail, Mr. Soliman was finally granted bail as protests raged across Egypt.  Just as he was about to be released on January 28th, his jail  was attacked by protesters and set on fire.  Guards and police fled leaving the prisoners to die in the burning jail, many of whom were crammed in 8-by-8-foot cells with as many as 30 people.  Eventually the protesters entered the jail and smashed the locks on the prisoner's cells amidst smoke and tear gas, releasing Mr. Soliman and others in a scene that can only be described as dangerously chaotic.

Over the next few days, Mr. Soliman, along with attorneys in the U.S. working with the HIA, asked the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to help reissue Mr. Soliman a passport so he can return to the U.S.  However, the embassy has refused to issue the new passport so far for no apparent reason except that he is facing unfounded drug charges in Egypt.

The Egyptian-born Mr. Soliman, 62, is owner of Healthy Harvest, the company which exported the hemp seed oil from Canada and operates in Egypt.  He lives in Aventura, Florida, but was spending time in Egypt to manage the arrival of products that he exports from the U.S. and Canada.  

"This is a tragic mistake that could be solved with a simple drug test.  Mr. Soliman is being falsely accused of importing  'hash oil' when it fact it was healthy hemp food," says Eric Steenstra, Executive Director of the HIA.  "The HIA and Votehemp.com are launching a campaign to free Mostafa Soliman that will hopefully jump-start action at the U.S. State Department.  We recognize that the unrest in Egypt will make it more difficult for U.S. authorities to act, but this terrible mistake by Egyptian authorities was made well before the recent protests began and in many ways symbolizes the corruption the protestors are resisting," adds Steenstra.

SOURCE Hemp Industries Association