Aunt of jailed activist 'too afraid to research' impacts of his hunger strike

19 May 2022, 19:45 | Updated: 19 May 2022, 19:49

By Daisy Stephens

The aunt of imprisoned activist Abd el-Fattah has told LBC she is too afraid to research the impacts of her nephew's hunger strike on his body as she called for the British government to do more to ensure he is freed.

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Abd el-Fattah, a dual British-Egyptian citizen, is currently imprisoned in Egypt and is on hunger strike.

His aunt, writer Ahdaf Soueif, told Tonight with Andrew Mar she feared for her nephew's life and said: "I've not been able to make myself look at what happens to the body after a certain number of days [without food] but I know that we start looking at permanent damage to organs."

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Mr el-Fattah has spent long periods in jail over the past decade, including for sharing a Facebook post about human rights abuses in Egyptian prisons.

A group of MPs and peers wrote to the foreign secretary on Wednesday urging her to take action to help free him.

Ms Soueif visited her nephew in prison earlier on Thursday, and said he was "thin and weak".

"I've actually just come back from prison where I've seen him for the first time for a very long time, and he is very well, he is looking thin and he is looking weak but he is very much himself," she said.

"He insists that he is going to continue with his hunger strike until his actual demands are met."

Pro-democracy blogger Abd el-Fattah is currently in prison in Egypt
Pro-democracy blogger Abd el-Fattah is currently in prison in Egypt. Picture: Provided

She then listed his demands.

"As an Egyptian, the reports and the charges that he's filed over the last two years need to be investigated and taken seriously, and as a British subject he is demanding consular visits and he is demanding access to UK law," she said.

She said consular visits would be "critical", saying that Egypt and the UK "enjoy friendly relations".

"They are allies, Egypt depends a lot on the UK's support," she said.

"There is absolutely no pretext, really, for a consular visit to be denied."

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She added: "We would really like the British government to really press for the release of Abd.

"Obviously what we want immediately - as in, tomorrow - we want consular visits so that we know that he's safe... but what we really want is his release."

She then said: "He has spent the best part of eight years in prison and he is a remarkable and valuable human being and he needs to not be in prison."