Alaa Abd El-Fattah, a jailed British-Egyptian activist who went on a hunger and water strike, is alive and has resumed drinking water, authorities said in a letter to his family.
He has been on a hunger strike for over 200 days and stopped drinking water earlier this month.
Sanaa Seif, the activist’s sister, said in a tweet on Monday that Egyptian prison officials sent a note to her mother saying Abd El-Fattah was alive and started drinking water again on Saturday. Seif said the letter was “definitely” handwritten by his brother. Abd El-Fattah promised in his letter “to say more as soon as he can”, Seif said.
The family’s lawyer, Khaled Ali, said in a Facebook post on Monday that Abd El-Fattah also wrote in the letter that he was “well and under medical supervision.” Ali said he was waiting for permission from the prosecutor to visit Abd El-Fattah at Wadi Al Natrun prison, north of Cairo.
Seif held a press conference last week in which she said the family did not know if Abd El-Fattah was alive. Egyptian authorities have repeatedly resisted calls for his release.
Abd El-Fattah was a leading activist in Egypt’s 2011 uprising, which toppled the government of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak’s democratically elected successor was overthrown in a coup and replaced by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the current president, under whose rule civil society and freedom of expression were stifled.
Abd El-Fattah has spent much of the past decade in prison on charges that activists say are politically motivated. In 2019, he was sentenced to an additional five years in prison for allegedly spreading fake news after sharing a Facebook post highlighting human rights abuses in Egyptian prisons.
Earlier this month he escalated a more than 200-day hunger strike and quit drinking water – a development that coincided with world leaders gathering in Egypt for the COP27 climate summit. . Abd El-Fattah’s declining health cast a shadow over the event and led to renewed calls for his release, including from Amnesty International. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also raised the case of Abd El-Fattah during his participation in COP27.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Abd El-Fattah’s situation was a “legal matter” and that he had been given a “fair trial”.