Jailed British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah ends hunger strike

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Jailed British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah has told his family in a letter that he has ended his seven-month hunger strike in prison in Egypt.

“I’ve broken my strike. I’ll explain everything on Thursday,” Abdel Fattah said in his letter to his mother, dated Monday.

His sister said she felt “cautiously relieved”, but that the family needed to see him with their own eyes.

The 40-year-old pro-democracy advocate, hoping to pressure Egypt into at least allowing British consular officials to visit him, started refusing water on 6 November to coincide with the start of the COP27 climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh.

 

British-Egyptian pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdel Fattah has told his family in a letter that he has ended a seven-month hunger strike in prison in Egypt.

“I’ve broken my strike. I’ll explain everything on Thursday,” says the letter to his mother, dated Monday.

His sister said she felt “cautiously relieved”, but that the family needed to see him with their own eyes.

It comes a day after they were handed a letter from Abdel Fattah saying he had resumed drinking water on Saturday.

The 40-year-old started refusing water on 6 November to coincide with the start of the COP27 climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, hoping to pressure Egypt into at least allowing British consular officials to visit him.

His mother was told by prison officials last Thursday that he had undergone an unspecified “medical intervention with the knowledge of a judicial authority”.

Egypt’s public prosecution meanwhile asserted that he was in “good health”, without providing any proof.

The UK, UN, US and several other countries have called for his release.

Abdel Fattah’s lawyer said he has been denied access to the prison three times since Thursday despite being given the necessary permits from the prosecutor general.

The British embassy has also not been able to visit Abdel Fattah to check on his health. That is because Egyptian authorities are continuing to refuse to recognise him as a British citizen despite UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak raising his case with President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi at COP27 last week.

Abdel Fattah, who obtained British citizenship last year through his London-born mother, has become a symbol of the 60,000 political prisoners believed by human rights groups to be languishing in Egyptian jails.

He was a leading figure in the Arab Spring uprising that led to the overthrow of long-time President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

But since President Sisi came to power in 2014 after leading the military’s overthrow of Mubarak’s democratically elected successor, Abdel Fattah has spent most of the time in prison or police detention.

His latest five-year sentence was for allegedly “spreading false news” in social media posts – a charge human rights groups condemned as spurious.

His family said he began a partial hunger strike in April, consuming a maximum of 100 calories a day, to protest his unjust imprisonment, cruel detention conditions and denial of consular visits. (Source: BBC)

 

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