Imprisoned Egyptian hunger striker writes ‘he’s fine’ in letter.

Imprisoned Egyptian hunger striker writes ‘he’s fine’ in letter.


Jailed British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah has written that he is “fine” and drinking fluids after fears for his health mounted amid a months-long hunger strike, his family said on Monday.

Abdel Fattah, who ate “just 100 calories a day” for seven months, escalated his strike, first to all food, then water, as the COP27 climate summit opened on November 6 in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

His sister Sanaa Seif on Monday hailed a letter he addressed to his family as “proof of life at last.”

The activist’s lawyer, Khaled Ali, a former presidential candidate, was denied access when he attempted to visit Abdel Fattah in Wadi al-Natroun prison on Thursday and again on Sunday, despite claiming he had obtained the necessary permits.

He and Abdel Fattah’s mother, Laila Soueif, were handed the letter on Monday when they returned to prison a third time before the lawyer was again denied visitation rights.

In Abdel Fattah’s letter, “dated November 12, he writes that he is fine, under medical supervision and has started drinking water,” Ali wrote on Facebook.

The activist’s sister, meanwhile, confirmed in a statement that “it’s his handwriting” but asked: “Why did they keep this letter from us for two days?”

Echoing the demands she made during COP27, Seif said her brother “has to be on a plane to London and only then will we allow ourselves true relief.”

“Alaa is still on hunger strike, the British Embassy has still not been granted consular access, he is still being arbitrarily detained with no end in sight.”

– “Observed” at COP27 –

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

He’s been making headlines since the UN climate talks began last week in Egypt, which tried to boost its image by hosting COP27 but has come under fire for its human rights record.

When Seif attended the summit to campaign for her brother’s release, she was snubbed last week by pro-government participants who called her brother a “criminal” and not a “political prisoner.”

A German diplomatic source said a complaint had been lodged with Egypt because their delegation – which was hosting Seif and other human rights defenders – “felt they were being watched”.

Since the start of the UN climate summit, activists have complained of “being interrogated” and feared they will be “persecuted” as human rights groups warned of draconian surveillance measures.

Liane Schalatek, deputy director of the Heinrich Boll Foundation in Washington, said on German television that she felt “more uncomfortable than at any other COP before.”

A climate finance expert who has been attending COP conferences since 2008, she said this time cameras in meeting rooms focused on speakers’ faces.

“This is both unnecessary and unusual for such internal coordination meetings,” she said. “The possibility that everything will be recorded cannot be ruled out.”

– Presidential Pardon –

International pressure has increased since world leaders arrived in Sharm el-Sheikh last week. Several raised the case at bilateral meetings with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, most recently with US President Joe Biden on Friday.

Biden hailed Sisi’s reactivation of a dormant presidential parole board, which has enabled the release of several high-profile political prisoners this year.

On Friday, Abdel Fattah’s other sister, Mona Seif, announced that the family had filed a new request for a presidential pardon.

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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