Jailed British-Egyptian activist is still alive, says sister

The family of jailed British-Egyptian writer and pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah say they have received confirmation that he is still alive.

Concerns for Mr Abdel-Fattah have been growing after he stepped up a hunger strike and stopped taking water in protest at his treatment by the Egyptian authorities.

Prison officials last week refused to allow a lawyer for the family to visit him after the authorities told his mother they had made an unspecified medical intervention.

On Monday, however, his sister Sanaa Seif tweeted: “I’m so relieved. We just got a note from prison to my mother, Alaa is alive, he says he’s drinking water again as of November 12th.

“He says he’ll say more as soon as he can. It’s definitely his handwriting. Proof of life, at last. Why did they hold this back from us for 2 days?!”

Mr Abdel-Fattah escalated his protest to coincide with the start of the Cop27 climate change summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, in the hope of focusing the attention of the world on his plight.

He has spent most of the past decade in prison and is currently serving a five-year sentence on charges of disseminating false news, for retweeting a report in 2019 that another prisoner died in custody.

For the past six months he has been on a partial hunger strike, taking just 100 calories a day.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak raised his case with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi when he attended the opening of Cop27.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the UK is still trying to gain consular access to Mr Abdel-Fattah.

Mr Cleverly said a “difference of opinion” centres on the Egyptians not accepting that Mr Abdel-Fattah has completed the the administrative process in the Egyptian system for dual nationality.

“We will continue to make it clear to the Egyptian authorities that we are interested in this case and we will continue pushing for consular access,” he told the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We are able to speak regularly and frankly with the Egyptian authorities about this case.”