Family of Egyptian Alaa Abdel-Fattah seeks presidential pardon as he continues hunger strike
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.
"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.
Boris Johnson spoke with Sisi in late March, and raised Abd El Fattah’s case. Britain is a strategic ally for Egypt, its largest business partner, and supplier of at least £24m in arms in recent years#SaveAlaa #cop27 #FreeAlaa https://t.co/XkpEVz27fE— Mona Seif (@Monasosh) June 5, 2022
His aunt, acclaimed Egyptian-British novelist Ahdaf Soueif, tweeted:
The UK is the largest foreign investor in Egypt & Alaa is a UK citizen: what’s going on with @FCDOGovUK ? « It’s hard not to feel there’s a certain amount of disrespect happening here & we’re not sure why the British are tolerating it» https://t.co/ks8xi0c0gi— Ahdaf Soueif (@asoueif) June 5, 2022
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.