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Egypt. Family of imprisoned activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah demand word on his state of health

Laila Soueif, Mother of Alaa Abdel-Fattah   -  
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Amr Nabil/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved


The family of imprisoned Egyptian pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah demanded word on his condition after prison authorities on Thursday told them he was undergoing an undefined medical intervention and blocked a lawyer from seeing him.

The dramatic developments came days after Abdel-Fattah escalated a hunger strike and stopped drinking water.

His mother, Laila Soueif, said she was having difficulty imagining that authorities would actually let her son go after the years-long ordeal.

"I think the chances are very high that he will not get out and he will not be safe. So I can't really imagine after. I know that everyone is trying and stuff like that, but, the way I see it, nobody within power is trying seriously enough," she said.

Abdel-Fattah, who has been imprisoned for most of the past decade, had been consuming minimal calories for months but stopped all intake of food and water on Sunday, the first day of the COP27 climate conference.

At the Sharm el-Sheikh gathering, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz raised the activist's case in their talks with el-Sissi.

Abdel-Fattah gained British citizenship through his mother, who was born in London.

Late Thursday, Egypt's public prosecutor released a statement, saying a medical team had examined Abdel-Fattah after receiving a complaint from him on 1 Nov. and that he was found to be in stable health. The statement did not specify when exactly the checkups took place, or at what stage in his hunger or water strike, only that Abdel-Fattah had willingly undergone them.

The nature of the most recent medical intervention was also not immediately known, and it was not clear if he was moved to a prison hospital.

Soueif has been waiting outside the Wadi el-Natroun prison complex in the desert north of Cairo every day this week, seeking proof of life of her son. She said Thursday that prison officials spoke to her outside the prison gates but refused to take a letter from her to him.

She asked them if he was undergoing any medical procedure and they said he was.

"I said I want to know if Alaa is alive, if he is alive I want to know if he is conscious, I want to know if he's had any medical intervention, and if it's been done by force or by consent. And he said Alaa is alive, he is well, he has had medical intervention, we don't do things by force," she said.

Abdel-Fattah is serving a five-year sentence on charges of disseminating false news for sharing a Facebook post about a prisoner who died in custody in 2019.

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