Alaa Abdel-Fattah: Jailed activist’s health has ‘deteriorated severely’

Alaa Abdel-Fattah: Jailed activist’s health has ‘deteriorated severely’

The family of British-Egyptian writer Alaa Abdel-Fattah, who has been unlawfully jailed in Egypt, says his health has “deteriorated severely” after visiting him in prison.

The pro-democracy activist has spent much of the last decade behind bars in the Middle Eastern country. He is currently serving a five-year sentence after being convicted on charges of spreading false news after he shared social media posts about dire prison conditions.

A tweet from his sister Mona Seif said: “News from the visit are unsettling, deteriorated severely in the past two weeks, but at least they got to see him, and he needed to see the family so much.

“The family will share the full details later today, please bear with us.”

Earlier this week, his family said he had ended a simultaneous water strike having received a similar handwritten letter from Mr Abdel-Fattah.

Prison authorities began a medical intervention on Mr Abdel-Fattah last Thursday but failed to provide details on the nature of any treatment raising concerns among the family that he was being force-fed.

“I feel cautiously relieved now knowing that at least he’s not on hunger strike but my heart won’t really be settled until Thursday,” his sister Mona said in a family statement shared on Wednesday.

Mr Abdel-Fattah, who had been on a hunger strike for more than 200 days, allowing himself just 100 calories a day, announced ahead of Cop27 that he would stop drinking water as of Sunday 6 November – the first day of the UN climate summit hosted in Sharm el Sheikh.

During the two-week climate conference, which saw world leaders throng to the Egyptian resort town from all corners of the world, prime minister Rishi Sunak, US president Joe Biden, French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Olaf Scholz all raised the activist’s case in their private talks with Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Mr Abdel-Fattah was awarded British citizenship earlier this year through his mother, who was born in London. The family have frequently criticised the government for not doing enough to secure his release.

The software developer is one of Egypt’s most high-profile political prisoners and has been repeatedly targeted by President el-Sisi’s administration.