Jailed British-Egyptian activist ‘has deteriorated severely’ since hunger strike

Egyptian Activist;
The news of his condition was posted in a tweet by his sister Mona Seif. (PA Photo)

The family of jailed British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah said they have seen him and his condition has “deteriorated severely”.

The news was posted in a tweet by his sister, Mona Seif, after a visit to the Egyptian prison by his mother, aunt and other sister.

It was their first time seeing him in nearly a month.

Mr Abd El-Fattah is one of Egypt’s most prominent pro-democracy campaigners.

He had intensified a hunger strike and halted all calories and water at the start of the UN climate conference in Egypt this month, to draw attention to his case and those of other political prisoners.

Concerns for his health intensified as relatives were barred from seeing him. Last Thursday, prison authorities began an unspecified medical intervention prompting suggestions that he was being force-fed.

Earlier this week, Mr Abd El-Fattah informed his family in handwritten notes that he had started drinking water and then ended the hunger strike.

His mother, Laila Soueif, received two short letters in her son’s handwriting on Monday and Tuesday, through prison authorities.

The first letter, confirming he had started drinking water again, was dated on Saturday, while the second, confirming he had ended his hunger strike, was dated Monday.

His hunger strike drew attention to Egypt’s heavy suppression of speech and political activity, during the Arab nation’s hosting of the Cop27 summit.

Since 2013, Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s government has cracked down on dissidents and critics, jailing thousands, virtually banning protests and monitoring social media.

At the climate gathering, UK prime minister Rishi Sunak, French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Olaf Scholz all raised the activist’s case in their talks with Mr el-Sissi.

Mr Abd El-Fattah gained British citizenship earlier this year through his mother who was born in London.

He turns 41 on Friday, but has spent most of the past decade in prison because of his criticism of Egypt’s rulers.

Last year, he was sentenced to five years in prison for sharing a Facebook post about a prisoner who died in custody in 2019.

He rose to fame during the 2011 pro-democracy uprisings that swept through the Middle East, toppling Egypt’s long-time autocratic president Hosni Mubarak.

He has been imprisoned several times, and has spent a total of nine years behind bars, becoming a symbol of Egypt sliding back to an even more autocratic rule under President el-Sissi.

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