Alaa Abd El-Fattah: Liz Truss vows to help free British-Egyptian activist on hunger strike for 81 days

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Liz Truss has vowed to intervene to help free a British-Egyptian pro-democracy activist who has been on a hunger strike for 81 days after being detained in Egypt.

The Foreign Secretary told MPs she is seeking to hold a meeting with her Egyptian counterpart to raise the case of Alaa Abd El-Fattah.

Mr Abd El-Fattah has nearly a decade behind bars in Egypt and last December was sentenced to five years in prison after being accused of spreading false news.

His family have welcomed Ms Truss's pledge after pleading for her to get involved to help free the 40-year-old, who is taking 100 calories a day in a bid to gain more time in the campaign for his release.

Mona Seif, Mr Abd El-Fattah's sister, said today: "It's an incredible relief to hear the Foreign Secretary say, inside the Chamber, that the Government is working very hard to secure Alaa's release.

"We've always believed that, if the FCDO put its full weight behind Alaa, his nightmare would be over.

"But he is on day 81 of hunger strike now and time is running out. I hope they decide to fully commit before it's too late."

The family also confirmed that their protest outside the FCDO will take place from 5pm on Wednesday after it had previously been stated by an MP in the House of Commons that the event was on Tuesday.

'We're working very hard to secure his release'

It comes after Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokeswoman Layla Moran told the House of Commons: "Alaa Abd El-Fattah is a British national currently being imprisoned in Egypt and is on day 81 of his hunger strike.

"He's an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience and has been in prison for his pro-democracy views for eight of the last nine years since (President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi) took power.

"The family will be outside the FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) today between 5pm and 7pm asking: 'Where is the Foreign Secretary?'

"Would she consider meeting with them to discuss how we can ensure his release?"

Ms Truss replied: "I can assure (Ms Moran) that we're working very hard to secure his release.

"Lord Ahmad has met with the family and I am seeking a meeting with the Egyptian foreign minister, he's due to visit the United Kingdom shortly, and I'll be raising his case."

Hollywood stars Dame Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, Mark Ruffalo and Carey Mulligan are among those to campaign for Mr Abd el-Fattah's release.

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