Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah given 'medical intervention' in prison

© Nariman El-Mofty, AP

Egyptian prison authorities have intervened medically with imprisoned pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, who this week escalated his hunger strike and stopped drinking water, his family said Thursday, demanding his release. The drama surrounding his fate is coinciding with Egypt’s hosting of the U.N. climate summit.

With the family scrambling for details on Abdel-Fattah's condition, officials at the prison refused to allow a lawyer for the family to visit him, despite approval by the prosecutors' office for the visit. The lawyer, Khaled Ali, said Interior Ministry officials told him the approval was not valid because it was dated Wednesday, adding in a tweet that he was only notified of the approval on Thursday morning.

The nature of the medical intervention was not known, and it was not clear if he was moved to a prison hospital. The family has expressed fears prison officials would force-feed Abdel-Fattah, which they said would amount to torture. Abdel-Fattah said in an earlier letter that he was prepared to die in prison if not freed, and Thursday was the fifth day since he said he stopped drinking water or consuming any calories.

Abdel-Fattah’s mother, Laila Soueif, has been waiting outside the Wadi el-Natroun prison complex in the desert north of Cairo every day this week, seeking proof of life of her son. She said Thursday that prison officials spoke to her outside the prison gates but refused to take a letter from her to her son.


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