Family of jailed British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah put faith in Sunak to secure release

Family of jailed British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah put faith in Sunak to secure release
The family of jailed British-Egyptian hunger striker Alaa Abdel Fattah 'hope and trust' that British Prime Minister Riski Sunak can secure his release, as concerns for the activist's health condition grow.
2 min read
08 November, 2022
Alaa Abdel Fattah's family have pressed the UK government to secure the British-Egyptian's release [Getty]

The family of jailed British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah say they have put their faith in British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to secure his release.

Sanaa Seif, Abdel Fattah's sister, said she "hopes and trusts" that Sunak - who is in Egypt for the COP27 climate summit - will be able to ensure the jailed dual national's freedom "if it is really a priority", she told the BBC.

Abdel Fattah was sentenced in December 2021 to five years in prison on charges of spreading false news. He has been on hunger strike for 219 days to protest the conditions of his detention and began a water strike in jail on Sunday, to coincide with the first day of COP27.

Sunak met on Monday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on the sidelines of COP27, where he stressed the UK government's "deep concern" over the activist's case, Downing Street said.

In a letter addressed to Abdel Fattah's sister Sanaa Seif dated 5 November, Sunak wrote that the case remained a priority for the UK government and had been raised with Sisi several times.

The hunger striker's family was left disappointed Tuesday after prison authorities did not hand over a weekly letter from Abdel Fattah.

His mother Laila Soueif waited outside Wadi Al-Natrun prison for 10 hours for the letter usually delivered on Monday, the family said.

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After conducting a two-week sit-in front of the UK Foreign Office, Seif decided to attend COP27 in Egypt to press for her brother's release.

"I want to be there and hold them all accountable while Alaa either dies or is saved. It’s a little risk but a calculated one, and it's nothing compared to what my brother is going through," she told The New Arab of the decision to head to Egypt.

Abdel Fattah rose to prominence during Egypt's 2011 uprising but has been detained for much of the period since. 

Local and international human rights groups estimate that Egypt has held as many as 60,000 political prisoners and detainees since Sisi seized control of the country in a military coup in 2013.

Activists say Egypt is using COP27 to "greenwash" its terrible human rights record.