COP27: Boris Johnson calls for Alaa Abdel Fattah release

COP27: Boris Johnson calls for Alaa Abdel Fattah release
Sisi seemed 'open to discussion' about the jailed activist's release, despite no movement during the Johnson era.
2 min read
07 November, 2022
"Sisi has been able to sort things out in the past," said Johnson [Getty images]

Former PM Boris Johnson called on Egyptian authorities to immediately release Egyptian-British national Alaa Abdel-Fattah during his COP27 visit to Sharm El-Sheikh.

Abdel Fattah has entered his second day of a water strike following over 200 days of consuming just 100 calories a day, to protest his continued detention.

He is one of the most high profile of the thousands of political prisoners held by Egypt. 

"It's my strong belief that he should be released and granted consular access," said Johnson during his climate summit speech this morning. 

"I raised this with the Egyptian government while prime minister. President Sisi and I had a long conversation about it - and he did seem open for discussion." 

According to the disgraced former leader, the UK "has a very good relationship with Egypt" and is "able to raise things very frankly with Egyptians". 

Johnson said President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi - who launched a massive crackdown on political dissent following a 2013 coup - has "been able to sort things out in the past".

During his tenure, Egypt continued to refuse consular access for British diplomats to visit Abdel Fattah in prison, and the authorities have remained intransigent against his release. 

Johnson's comments in support of the jailed activist came shortly after new PM Rishi Sunak promised the imprisoned activist's family he would use the climate summit to put pressure on the Sisi regime to release him. 

Negotiating for Abdel Fattah's release will be a major first test of Sunak's diplomacy skills, as the former chancellor has little experience of foreign policy briefs. 

"The UK's attendance at COP27 is another opportunity to raise your brother's case with the Egyptian leadership," said Sunak in his letter to Sanaa Seif, Abdel Fattah's sister. 

"The government is deeply committed to doing everything we can to resolve Alaa's case as soon as possible."