Alaa Abd el-Fattah: MPs and peers call for Egypt travel advice to be changed following ‘lack of progress’ over jailed activist

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Alaa Abd el-Fattah, a dual UK-Egpyt citizen, has been under lock and key in North Africa for nine of the past 11 years. The legislators want the UK to warn its citizens they are not protected if they travel to Egypt.

Campaigners are calling for the UK to change its travel advice to Egypt, 18 months since a British man detained there was last able to see consular staff in the country. Alaa Abd el-Fattah, a dual UK-Egpyt citizen, has been under lock and key in North Africa for nine of the past 11 years. He became a prominent pro-democracy activist during the Tahrir Square demonstrations in Cairo in 2011 which led to the downfall of then president Hosni Mubarak. He was sentenced to five years behind bars in December 2021 for sharing a Facebook post about human rights abuses in Egyptian prisons in 2019. Mr Abd el-Fattah went on a hunger strike last year.

A letter signed by 100 MPs and peers will be submitted to the UK Foreign Office calling on Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to take action. This includes wanting the UK to lead a joint statement on Egypt at the UN, and also changing the travel advice for British people visiting the country. They want UK travellers – like US citizens – to be told their nationality does not protect them from being arrested, and that people “may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention”.

The US advice also notes “the Egyptian authorities do not automatically notify the US Embassy when a dual national is detained, or provide information about their alleged crime”. Among those who signed the letter are senior Labour MPs Diane Abbott, Hilary Benn and Sir Chris Bryant, alongside senior Tories Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Sir Peter Bottomley. The last British governor of Hong Kong, Lord Patten of Barnes, is also a signatory.

The letter says: “We are writing to express our concern at the lack of progress on the case of Alaa Abd el-Fattah, six months on from the prime minister’s meeting with President Sisi in Sharm el-Sheikh. “As a result, we are asking you to take the lead on a joint statement on Egypt at the UN Human Rights Council, and to update the UK’s travel advice for the country.” The letter adds that “private lobbying of the Egyptian government, even at the highest levels, is yet to deliver results” when it comes to Mr Abd el-Fattah – hence the calls for new steps. The letter will be delivered to the Foreign Office at lunchtime on Monday, with a demonstration also taking place.