Egyptian hunger striker’s lawyer denied access for second time

Egyptian hunger striker’s lawyer denied access for second time


The lawyer for jailed Egyptian hunger striker Alaa Abdel Fattah said Sunday he had been denied access to his client for the second time in days amid mounting fears for the activist’s health.

Seven months after his hunger strike, Abdel Fattah began refusing water on November 6 as world leaders arrived in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for the COP27 climate summit.

A key figure in the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, he is serving a five-year sentence for “spreading false news” by sharing a Facebook post about police brutality.

His family say they fear for his life and have spent months appealing to the international community, particularly Britain, where Abdel Fattah gained citizenship behind bars this year through his British-born mother.

His lawyer Khaled Ali, a former presidential candidate, was denied access Thursday after prison authorities said his residence permit was invalid because it was dated the previous day. Such passports are usually valid for “one week,” he said.

On Sunday, Ali said he was granted another visit permit but was blocked again.

“I picked up the permit from the Cairo Public Prosecutor’s Office at 15:00 (1300 GMT) and went to jail as soon as possible,” he said on Facebook.

He arrived at Wadi al-Natroun prison, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of Cairo, around 4:45 p.m. and was allowed in and had to wait.

But an hour later, an officer informed him that “the prison was closed,” Ali added.

Abdel Fattah was a key figure in Egypt’s Arab Spring uprising more than a decade ago. He began eating “just 100 calories a day” in April, his family said, to protest the conditions he and about 60,000 other political prisoners in the country are being subjected to.

Some leaders have raised his case at bilateral meetings during climate talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

His sister Sanaa Seif was harassed at two press conferences this week by pro-government attendees who called her brother a “criminal” rather than a “political prisoner.”

On Friday, his other sister, Mona Seif, filed a pardon request.

The appeal was taken up by one of Egypt’s most watched talk show hosts, ardent pro-Sisi Amr Adib.

On Friday, Adib said on prime-time television that the pardon was “primarily in Egypt’s interests.”

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