Egyptian political prisoner starts hunger strike after being denied cancer treatment

Egyptian political prisoner starts hunger strike after being denied cancer treatment
2 min read
10 June, 2022
An Egyptian political prisoner held without trial in a police station has begun a hunger strike after being denied treatment for rare cancerous tumours
Egyptian authorities hold tens of thousands of political prisoners in detention [Getty]

An Egyptian political prisoner is on an open-ended hunger strike after being denied treatment for cancerous tumours in his body.

Thirty-one-year-old Wahid Hassan is imprisoned in the Abu Kabir police station in Sharqiya province in northeastern Egypt.

He began his hunger strike last week, according to the Egyptian Network for Human Rights, after authorities refused to release him or transfer him to Egypt's only treatment centre for cancerous tumours in Cairo.

Hassan was first detained in December 2016 and imprisoned in the notorious Aqrab ('Scorpion') Prison, where he contracted a rare bone tumour.

He was taken to the tumour treatment centre in Cairo, where doctors said he should remain on site to receive treatment. However, security authorities refused this and returned him to Aqrab Prison.

On 9 March 2020, a military court found him innocent of charges related to an alleged assassination attempt against the assistant attorney general and he was transferred to Abu Kabir police station to complete procedures related to his release.

But instead of being released he was kept in custody and accused of new charges. On 30 May, a prosecutor ordered his release but police are still keeping him in detention.

Hassan has now been in detention for five and a half years in very harsh conditions without treatment for his illness, rights groups say.

His family have pleaded for him to be treated for the disease before it is too late, calling on the police in Abu Kabir police station to free him.

Since current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi came to power following a 2013 military coup, tens of thousands of people have been imprisoned in Egypt, often on trumped-up charges of terrorism or without trial.

Human rights groups have condemned Egyptian authorities for their torture, abuse and medical neglect of prisoners. Mohammed Morsi, Sisi’s predecessor and Egypt's only democratically elected leader, died in a courtroom following years of medical neglect in prison.