Egyptian activist jailed for ‘water strike’ as UK PM pledges support | News on the climate crisis

Alaa Abd el-Fattah has stopped drinking water, his family says, as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promises to push for his release.

Imprisoned Egyptian activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah has stopped drinking water, his family said on Sunday, stepping up their hunger strike as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he would raise his case with Cairo for the COP27 climate summit which opened on Sunday.

A major figure in the 2011 uprising that toppled the longtime president Hosni MubarakAbd el-Fattah is currently serving a five-year sentence for “spreading false news”, having already spent much of the past decade behind bars.

After a seven-month hunger strike during which he consumed only “100 calories a day”, he flatly refused to eat since Tuesday, and launched a “water strike” on Sunday, his sister said Sanaa Seif in a statement.

On Saturday, Sunak told Seif in a letter that the UK would use the summit to push for his brother’s release.

In the letter, which was posted by his family on social media, Sunak wrote that the case remained a priority for the British government and had been raised several times with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

“I will continue to stress to President Sisi the importance we attach to the speedy resolution of Alaa’s case and an end to his unacceptable treatment,” Sunak wrote.

“The UK’s presence at COP27 is another opportunity to raise your brother’s case with Egyptian leaders.”

Sunak’s office confirmed the letter.

Keep his story alive’

The family, who communicate with Abd el-Fattah by weekly mail and on rare visits, say they fear that if he is not released at the climate conference, he will die without water.

After family visits in October, his sister said: “He looks very weak, he is slowly fading, he looks like a skeleton.”

On Twitter, Seif urged people to “keep his story alive.”

“I take the lights on around 10 a.m. as the signal for a new day,” he wrote in his final letter to his family. “With the lights on on Sunday, November 6, I will drink my last cup of water…everything after that is unknown.”

Egyptian officials previously said he was receiving meals and was moved to a prison with better conditions earlier this year.

Amnesty International chief Agnes Callamard told reporters in Cairo on Sunday that “Alaa Abdel Fattah must be released”, warning that his death in prison could be imminent.

“There’s not a lot of time, 72 hours at best,” she said. “If they don’t [release him]that death will be in every discussion of this COP.

Tens of thousands of participants, including some 90 heads of state and government, are expected in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for the UN climate summit from Sunday to November 18.

Sunak, who is also due to attend the conference, “must understand the urgency” of securing Abd el-Fattah’s release, Seif told Sky News UK on Sunday.

“After the conference, it might be too late.”

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