U.S. looking into reports Egypt has detained rights activist's relatives

Feb 16 (Reuters) - The United States is looking into reports that Egypt has detained relatives of prominent Egyptian-American human rights activist Mohamed Soltan, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday.

“We have and we continue to engage the Egyptian government on human rights concerns, and we take seriously all allegations of arbitrary arrest or detention,” Price told a news briefing.

Soltan’s organization, The Freedom Initiative, in a statement said six members of his family were detained on Sunday by plain-clothed Egyptian State Security forces as part of a “campaign of retaliatory aggression.”

Soltan “is calling attention to the impunity and disregard for human rights under the current Egyptian regime. Now the Egyptian regime is arresting his relatives to try to intimidate him into silence,” his lawyer Eric Lewis said, according to the group’s statement.

Representatives for Cairo could not be immediately reached for comment.

Egyptian security forces allegedly raided homes of Soltan’s relatives last year, his lawyers have said.

Soltan, who lives in Virginia, was arrested in August 2013 in Egypt and accused of crimes including spreading false information before being released in 2015.

He has sued ex-Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi in the U.S. district court in the District of Columbia for allegedly conspiring to target him for his high profile role assisting international media covering political demonstrations in Egypt and for alleged torture during his imprisonment. (Wriiting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)