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Pressure builds on UK gov't to secure consular access for national head in Egypt

Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah gives an interview at his home in Cairo on May 17, 2019 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah gives an interview at his home in Cairo on May 17, 2019 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]

As Egyptian political prisoner Alaa Abdelfattah approaches his 60th day on hunger strike, pressure is building on the UK government to take swift action to secure his release.

Alaa was arrested in 2019 along with other activists and political figures after Egyptian whistleblower Mohamed Ali called on the country to protest Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's rule.

He was sentenced to five years in prison for "broadcasting false news", was beaten and tortured and banned from sending letters and reading books.

On the first day of Ramadan Alaa began a hunger strike to improve his conditions of detention and demand a consular visit.

Alaa recently became a British citizen whilst in prison through his mother Laila Soueif, who was born in London, and so has the right to the UK government's full consular support.

After he hit 48 days of hunger strike and pressure started to build, Alaa was transferred from Tora maximum-security prison to Wadi El-Natroun Prison where he was given more access to medical facilities and was able to sleep on a mattress for the first time in three years.

The hunger strike continues as Alaa calls for an independent investigative judge to look into his complaints about torture and assault whilst he is in prison.

READ: Amnesty 'outraged' after Egypt court hands 25 opponents lengthy prison terms

Last week, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran sent a letter to Liz Truss calling on the foreign secretary to publicly express her outrage at the fact that Egyptian authorities have so far denied Alaa's access to full consular support.

Mona and Sanaa Seif, Alaa's sisters, have met with Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon to discuss Alaa's case.

In an interview with the New Arab, Mona said that family members were able to visit Alaa in Wadi Al-Natroun Prison, following significant pressure on the Egyptian government from the British embassy in Egypt and UK MPs.

Earlier this month Labour MP Zarah Sultana urged the UK government to redouble its efforts to secure UK consular access for Alaa and to summon the Egyptian ambassador to demand his immediate release.

In a tweet today, Alaa's aunt, the author Ahdaf Soueif, said that the UK government had said they are in contact with Egyptian authorities and are urgently seeking a consular visit.

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