Egypt Watch

Rishi Sunak says the UK government is fully committed to releasing Alaa Abdel Fattah

On Sunday, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sent a letter to the family of jailed political activist Alaa Abdel Fattah saying his government was fully committed to resolving Abdel Fattah’s case and that he remains a priority for them, both as a human rights defender and as a UK citizen.

“British ministers and officials continue to press for urgent consular access to Abdel Fattah,” Sunak said. “They are also calling on the highest levels of the Egyptian government to release him.” This coincides with Abdel Fattah’s start of a total hunger strike after 200 days of a partial one. It also coincides with the start of the COP27 climate summit in Egypt, which Sunak will attend. Sunak said that former Prime Minister Liz Truss raised the issue of Abdel Fattah with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on several occasions, stressing that he would continue to stress to el-Sisi the importance of a quick solution to the issue.

Abdel Fattah’s sisters, Mona and Sana, held a press conference in front of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on Saturday, in which they said that if the UK government did not make genuine efforts to get their brother out of prison, it would be giving the green light to the Egyptian government to kill him. Egyptian human rights groups have warned that the continued intransigence of the Egyptian authorities in releasing Abdel Fattah poses a threat to his life. The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said that Abdel Fattah was arbitrarily imprisoned, subjected to unfair trials, and tortured and ill-treatment.