The family of jailed, hunger-striking Egyptian British activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah say that he has started drinking water again.
“I’m so relieved. We just got a note from prison to my mother, Alaa is alive, he says he’s drinking water again as of November 12th,” his sister, Sanaa Seif, posted on Twitter on Monday.
“It’s definitely his handwriting. Proof of life, at last,” she wrote.
I'm so relieved. We just got a note from prison to my mother, Alaa is alive, he says he's drinking water again as of November 12th. He says he'll say more as soon as he can. It's definitely his handwriting. Proof of life, at last.
Why did they hold this back from us for 2 days?!
— Sanaa (@sana2) November 14, 2022
Abd el-Fattah, 40, is among Egypt’s most prominent pro-democracy activists. He has spent most of the last decade behind bars in a Cairo prison.
In 2015, he was sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of violating protest laws two years earlier, when now-president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi led a coup against former President Hosni Mubarak’s democratically elected successor Mohamed Morsi.
There has been growing concern about Abd el-Fattah’s fate as he started a hunger strike to protest his years-long detention by Egyptian authorities on charges of spreading disinformation. He has also drawn attention to the cause of other political prisoners.
As world leaders gathered this month in Egypt for the COP27 climate summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Abd el-Fattah announced he had stopped drinking water, escalating his strike. Many feared he could die behind bars.
He will be either dead or free, his supporters said.
Prison authorities had allowed him to communicate with his family through weekly letters.
Abd el-Fattah wrote to them about the start of a zero-calorie hunger strike on November 1 and that he would stop drinking water from November 6, when the global climate talks kicked off.
Monday’s was the first letter the family received since he stopped drinking water.
On Thursday, the public prosecutor said Abd el-Fattah was in good health after the family said they had been informed that there had been medical intervention to maintain his health.
El-Sisi’s administration routinely cracks down on dissent, jailing thousands of critics and banning protests.
Abd el-Fattah remained imprisoned until March 2019, when he was released on probation. But within six months he was rearrested and in December 2021 was sentenced to another five-year term on charges of spreading false news.
Human rights advocates have said the case against Abd el-Fattah and his continued imprisonment is unjust, and a “reprisal” against him for being a leader of the 2011 uprising against Mubarak.