Family of Egyptian Alaa Abdel-Fattah seeks presidential pardon as he continues hunger strike

Family of Egyptian Alaa Abdel-Fattah seeks presidential pardon as he continues hunger strike
2 min read
Egypt - Cairo
07 June, 2022
Egyptian-British activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah has been serving five years for 'disseminating false news.' His family has sought all means of freeing him, the latest action is a presidential pardon as he passes more than 60 days of a hunger strike.
Alaa Abdel-Fattah has been on hunger strike for almost 70 days. [Getty]

The family of a high-profile activist in jail, Alaa Abdel-Fattah, has sought a presidential pardon as he passes more than 65 days of a hunger strike, even if he will be obligated to revoke his Egyptian citizenship and leave the country, his sister Mona Seif posted on her Facebook page on Sunday.

Abdel-Fattah has been on hunger strike since 2 April, protesting the conditions he has been subjected to. He has been serving five years in prison over "disseminating false news."

"Several petitions of presidential pardon had earlier been applied on behalf of Abdel-Fattah but not through his family, which may have been taken as if we didn’t want him to be released this way," Seif wrote.

"So to avoid confusion, I submitted the petition myself now," she added.  

Abdel-Fattah, a dual UK-Egyptian national, has yet to receive a consular visit from the British. 

His aunt, acclaimed Egyptian-British novelist Ahdaf Soueif, tweeted:

Since the start of his protest, Egyptian authorities have moved Abdel-Fattah from the notorious Tora maximum-security prison complex to the new Egyptian Wadi El-Natroun prison complex, where he has been allowed to sleep on a mattress for the first time in years. 

However, according to his family, he has switched to a "Gandhi-style" hunger strike, consuming 100 calories a day by adding skimmed milk and honey to a cup of tea. 

The former computer programmer and activist has spent most of the past nine years behind bars. He was most recently imprisoned in 2019, after a crackdown that followed rare anti-government protests.

Abdel-Fattah was also among the vocal voices behind the 25 January 2011 revolution that led to the downfall of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.  He was also known for being a critic of the regime of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.         

Local and international rights groups documented that over 60,000 of Sisi’s critics are currently behind bars, whether detained without trial or received verdicts.