Democracy activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah has “severely deteriorated” over the past two weeks in the Egyptian prison where he is being held, his sister has warned.
Mona Seif said relatives had visited the British-Egyptian writer, who has been on a hunger strike at Wadi El Natrun prison in Cairo, to see “disturbing” changes in his physical health.
M Abd El Fattah spent most of the last decade in prison and is currently serving a five-year sentence for “spreading false news” after he retweeted a report in 2019 that another prisoner died in custody.
Since April, he has either completely refused food or gone on a partial hunger strike, taking in just 100 calories a day, and even spent a week without water, according to those campaigning for his release.
He had recently stepped up his hunger strike and stopped all calories and water at the start of the Cop27 summit in Egypt to draw attention to his case.
Authorities are believed to have started medical intervention on November 10, suggesting he was being force-fed, and his family received a note in what they believe to be his handwriting saying “I broke my strike”.
Writing on Twitter a week later, Ms Seif gave an update on her brother’s health.
She said: “The news of the visit is disturbing, @alaa has deteriorated badly over the past 2 weeks, but at least they got to see him, and he needed to see the family so badly.
“The family will share full details later today, please bear with us.”
Earlier on Thursday, Ms Seif shared a photo of their mother, Laila Soueif, in the prison waiting room before seeing her son for the first time in more than three weeks.
Alongside the photo, Ms Seif said: “The past two weeks have felt like a lifetime on their own: water strike, no communication or information, need for proof of life.
“I’m glad she finally sees him.”
In a letter to Ms Seif on November 5 – the day before COP27 began – Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the conference as an “opportunity to raise your brother’s case with the Egyptian leadership”.
He added that Middle East Minister Lord Ahmad would update the family on the progress of negotiations after the UN summit which ends on Friday.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) did not directly respond to questions about whether the family would receive an update from them on Mr Abd El-Fattah’s case by the end of the day. from this week.
A FCDO spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister raised the case of Mr. Alaa Abd El-Fattah with Egyptian President Sisi on November 7 and made it clear that he expected the case to be resolved. quickly resolved.
“Our priority is Mr. El-Fattah’s well-being and his immediate release.”