Imprisoned Egyptian activist ‘squeals’ as UK PM pledges support | Climate crisis news
Alaa Abd el-Fattah has stopped drinking water, his family says, as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak vows to lobby for his release.
Jailed Egyptian activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah has stopped drinking water, his family said on Sunday, intensifying a hunger strike as UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he would raise his case in Cairo. The COP27 climate summit which opened on Sunday.
A key figure in the 2011 uprising that toppled the longtime president Hosni MubarakAbd el-Fattah is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for “spreading fake news”, having already spent most of the past decade behind bars.
After a seven-month hunger strike during which she consumed just “100 calories a day”, she stopped eating altogether from Tuesday and began a “water fast” on Sunday, her sister Sanaa Seif said in a statement.
Sunak told Seif in an email on Saturday that the UK would use the summit to lobby for his brother’s release.
In a letter posted by his family on social media, Sunak said the case remained a priority for the British government and had been raised several times with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
“I will continue to emphasize to President Sisi the importance we place on a swift resolution to Alaa’s case and an end to his unacceptable treatment,” Sunak wrote.
“The UK’s participation in COP27 is another opportunity to raise the issue of your brother with the Egyptian leadership.”
Sunak’s office confirmed the letter.
Live his story
The family, which communicates with Abd el-Fattah through weekly letters and infrequent visits, say they fear that if he is not released at the climate conference, he will die without water.
After family visits in October, his sister said.
On Twitter, Saif called on people to “keep his story alive”.
My brother drank his last drink in prison. Please keep her story alive, it’s not over. He can be saved.
I am flying to Sharm this afternoon, I have a civil society pass. The Egyptian regime claims that civilian territory exists there #COP27 i will test it.#Free Out pic.twitter.com/e2FsfRGmft
— Sana (@sana2) November 6, 2022
“I take the lights on around 10 o’clock in the morning as the signal of a new day,” he wrote in his last letter to his family. “After I turn on the lights on Sunday November 6, I’ll drink my last glass of water… after that it’s all unknown.”
Egyptian officials previously said he was receiving meals and had been moved to a prison with better conditions earlier this year.
Amnesty International chief Agnes Callamard told reporters in Cairo on Sunday that “Ala’a Abdel Fattah must be released,” warning that his death in prison could be imminent.
“Not much time, 72 hours at best,” he said. “If they don’t [release him]that death will be in every discussion at this COP.”
Tens of thousands of participants, including some 90 heads of state and government, are expected in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh for the UN climate summit from Sunday to November 18.
Sunak, who is also due to attend the conference, “must understand the urgency” of securing Abd el-Fattah’s release, Seif told Britain’s Sky News on Sunday.
“After the conference it might be too late.”
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