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Egypt: Ex-presidential hopeful's health deteriorating in prison, lawyer says

A picture taken on January 16, 2022 shows the Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre in Badr city, Egypt [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
A picture taken on January 16, 2022 shows the Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre in Badr city, Egypt [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]

The health of Egypt's former presidential candidate and head of the Strong Egypt Party, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, has severely deteriorated while he has been in prison, following a slipped disc he suffered last week that prevented him from moving, his lawyer said.

Human rights lawyer Ahmed Abul-Ela Madi said he had seen his client during his last trial session when Aboul Fotouh was held in a glass cage, noting that he was sitting on a chair because he could not stand up. The court did not allow his defence team to meet him.

"Aboul Fotouh, 71, has been imprisoned in a solitary cell, pending case No. 1059 of 2021, emergency state security felonies, on charges of founding and leading a terrorist group with the knowledge and promotion of its purposes," Madi said, adding that the defendant's cell is located in a separate ward from other cells, and he is only allowed to exercise for 90 minutes a day.

"He remains severely confined within the same wing without sufficient access to sunlight or fresh air. He has no access to the prison library, mosque or any outside space and can only contact the guards," the lawyer explained.

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UN human rights experts have expressed "grave concern" about Aboul Fotouh's health and sent a note to authorities regarding this two months ago. They have had no response to date.

The experts called on the Egyptian authorities to provide updated and detailed information on the current state of Aboul Fotouh's physical and mental well-being, and to explain the measures taken against him.

The experts have also called on Egypt to clarify whether Aboul Fotouh's detention, in light of his reported health condition, complies with Egypt's international human rights obligations.

Aboul Fotouh suffers heart disease as a result of his detention. On 24 July 2021, it was reported that he had experienced severe symptoms indicating the possibility of a heart attack. He also has high blood pressure and diabetes.

He was detained in February 2018 after returning to Egypt from London. In the British capital he criticised Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi who was standing for election for a second term.

A former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Aboul Fatouh headed the centrist Strong Egypt Party and ran as an independent candidate in the 2012 presidential elections, gaining nearly a fifth of the votes in the first round.

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