Prominent Egyptian activist marks 100 days of hunger strike

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Cairo (AFP) – Supporters of prominent Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who will mark 100 days of hunger strike on Sunday, are calling on Washington to help secure his release, a statement said.

A major figure in the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, Abdel Fattah was sentenced in December to five years in prison after being found guilty along with two others of “spreading false news”.

Sunday will mark 100 days of its biggest strike, according to a statement from its support committee. He only takes “100 calories a day in the form of a spoonful of honey and a drop of milk in tea,” according to Saturday’s release.

Her sister Sanaa Seif will speak about her case at a press briefing in Washington on Monday ahead of a tour of the Middle East later in the week by US President Joe Biden, the statement added.

Other Arab leaders, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, are expected to be present in Saudi Arabia when Biden visits the kingdom as part of his tour.

Another sister, Mona Seif, continues to draw attention to the plight of what rights groups say are around 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt. She has been collecting letters of support from EU lawmakers for months.

Mona Seif announced this week that she was suspending her own hunger strike, which she started in solidarity with her brother.

“Alaa is currently serving a five-year sentence for sharing a Facebook post about prison conditions in Egypt,” the statement from the support committee said.

“He is on a hunger strike to demand his right of consular access to the British Embassy,” he added.

Abdel Fattah obtained British citizenship in April from inside prison, through his British-born mother Laila Soueif.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry said last month it had footage that “refutes” reports of his hunger strike.

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

The UK government is now in disarray after Boris Johnson resigned as prime minister this week.

Egypt is set to host the COP27 climate summit in November, a role that Human Rights Watch says “rewards” the “repressive regime” of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.