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Prominent Egyptian Activist on Hunger Strike for 100 Days

Prominent Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah has been on hunger strike for 100 days, protesting his continued illegal detention.

A major figure in the 2011 revolt that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, Abdel Fattah was sentenced in December to five years in prison after he was convicted along with two others of “broadcasting false news”.

Marking 100 days of his huger strike, Alaa is demanding his right to consular access from the British embassy.

Abd el-Fattah gained UK citizenship in April from inside prison, through his British-born mother, Laila Soueif.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in June that Britain was “working very hard to secure his release”.

However, Egypt’s interior ministry said last month that it had footage that “disproves” reports of his hunger strike.

Abdel Fattah is an outspoken dissident who rose to prominence during the 2011 pro-democracy uprisings that swept the Middle East and in Egypt, toppling long-time President Hosni Mubarak. The activist spent most of the past decade behind bars, and his detention has become a symbol of Egypt’s return to autocratic rule.

Abdel Fattah was first sentenced in 2014 after being convicted of taking part in an unauthorized protest and allegedly assaulting a police officer. He was released in 2019 after serving a five-year term but was rearrested later that year in a crackdown that followed rare anti-government protests.

In December, he was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of spreading false news.

Earlier this month, dozens of rights organisations filed a petition with the state-appointed National Council for Human Rights to demand the release of the 40-year-old programmer. In response, the body’s president, Moushira Khattab, announced that authorities had agreed to transfer him to the newly-erected Wadi El-Naturn prison complex. Khattab said human rights standards are met there.

The government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has been relentlessly silencing dissenters and clamping down on independent organizations for years with arrests and restrictions.

 Many of the top activists involved in the 2011 uprising are now in prison, most under a draconian law passed in 2013 effectively banning all street protests.

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