Alaa Abd El-Fattah will die in prison in Egypt if world leaders do not act quickly, the sister of the jailed activist says. Mona Seif, 36, said it is unclear how his health has deteriorated after more than 200 days on a hunger strike and recently cutting out all calories and water.
Ms Seif said the family is hoping to receive their weekly letter on Monday, which would be “proof of life, at least that he is cognitively functional enough to write this letter”.
She warned there is a “very short window” to save her brother’s life. She told Express.co.uk: “We don’t know how long his body is capable of sustaining a hunger strike and a water strike.”
Amnesty International said Mr El-Fattah may have just “hours to live” because of how his body has already been weakened by the long-running hunger strike.
Rishi Sunak wrote to his family promising to raise the issue with Egyptian leadership while in the country for COP27.
Ms Seif said that gave the family “reassurance Alaa’s case is a top priority with the Government”.
She said: “The only concern we have is that because of how critical Alaa’s health situation is, is that this kind of commitment might be a bit too late or that they do not have an actual plan in their mind to secure his release as they have pledged.
“I am hoping they will manage to step up and save Alaa before it is too late.
“My worry is that the British Government and other world leaders right now attending COP27 will not be able to reach some kind of resolution with Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the Egyptian government with regard to Alaa’s case in time to save him, and that he will die in prison.”
She had a message for the representatives of the British Government, including Rishi Sunak, who are at COP27: “Don’t leave without my brother alive with you, safe to be reunited with us here as a family in London.”
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She stressed the most important priority was for Mr El-Fattah to be reunited with his 10-year-old son, who is non-verbal and autistic and has been “affected the most severely” by his imprisonment.
She said: “He is an incredible father who needs to be with his son Khalid, who has not seen him for over 15 months and who desperately needs his father to be with him.”
But the impact of his release would go far beyond their family, she added. She said: “It is also about doing the right thing, supporting a just cause and it also gives a small beam of light for the thousands of political prisoners languishing in prison in Egypt.
“If they see Alaa who is a prominent political prisoner and who has been in prison since Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s power at the end of 2013, if they see there is a possibility of him getting released they will definitely view this as hope and a possibility for them.”
An activist and writer, Mr El-Fattah has spent much of the last decade behind bars. He rose to prominence during the 2011 Arab Spring and is currently serving a five-year sentence for “spreading false news”.
Amnesty International labelled his trial “grossly unfair” and declared him a prisoner of conscience, “solely targeted for [his] activism”.
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He was granted British citizenship in 2021, which gives him the right to consular visits from British officials, but this right has been refused. He began a hunger strike in protest on April 2nd.
Ms Seif said the last nine years have been “very exhausting and very daunting”.
She said: “We’ve reached a point where Alaa feels he can’t endure any more of it.
“He feels like there’s finally an opportunity for him to go out and be with us in safety and now COP27 is happening and we can’t do anything but support his last attempt at freedom.”
She said it was hard to imagine him arriving in London on a plane from Egypt, saying: “I’ve been trying to imagine a future where we are away from all of this madness and all of this violence.
“Just resuming a normal life where you know that your loved ones are safe and you don’t have to be constantly fighting every day for the smallest right and the fragments of safety and protection for them – just to know that would be a major relief and a major change in our lives.”