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Jailed Egyptian blogger enters dangerous zone on hunger strike – mother

Laila Soueif, mother of activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, speaks during an interview with Reuters at her home in Cairo, Egypt December 17, 2021. Picture taken December 17, 2021. REUTERS/Staff/File Photo

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  • A blogger rose to prominence with the 2011 Egyptian uprising
  • Take about 100 calories a day
  • British officials request consular access

CAIRO, June 28 (Reuters) – The mother of imprisoned British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah says she fears a rapid deterioration in her health after nearly 90 days on hunger strike, despite some improvements in her living conditions. detention.

Abd el-Fattah, a 40-year-old blogger who rose to prominence with Egypt’s 2011 uprising, became too weak to do his own laundry or climb to look out of a high window in his cell, his mother Laila said. Thirsty.

“He’s really, really getting into a dangerous zone,” Soueif told Reuters. “I am seriously worried because I know in this kind of situation you can get a quick deterioration.”

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The Egyptian state press center did not respond to a request for comment. On June 9, the Interior Ministry said it had clips proving Abd el-Fattah was not on a hunger strike, although he did not release footage.

His cause gained attention in Britain after he was granted British citizenship last year, as part of the family’s campaign to secure his release. Britain is urgently requesting consular access to Abd el-Fattah and continues to take his case to the highest levels of the Egyptian government, a Foreign Office spokesman said.

Abd el-Fattah was sentenced to five years in prison in December for spreading false news for sharing a social media post about the death of a prisoner, and had previously been jailed for protesting without permission. He began the strike on April 2 against his detention and alleged violations of the law in prison.

In May, he was moved from Cairo prison to one of several new facilities authorities say they have built to modernize the prison system. Read more

There, he is entitled to books and a mattress, says his family. Earlier this month he was allowed out of his four-man cell into a covered courtyard to exercise for half an hour.

After ingesting only water and salts at the start of his strike, he allows himself up to around 100 calories a day to run his body, his mother and one of his sisters said. Most guidelines recommend that adults consume at least 2,000 per day.

“Every time I go there, I think, will this be the time when they say ‘no, he’s not well, he’s been transferred to hospital’?” said Soueif, a 66-year-old math teacher, who last visited her son on June 12.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, sentenced prisoners were allowed one-hour visits twice a month. This is currently reduced to a monthly visit of 20 minutes.

For the past nine years, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has overseen a wide-ranging crackdown on political dissent aimed at both Islamist and liberal opponents.

Sisi and his supporters say he had to stabilize Egypt after the uprising. In recent weeks, authorities have pardoned or released dozens of people, but activists say thousands are still imprisoned.

Although Abd el-Fattah agreed to give up his Egyptian nationality and leave the country for release – a route taken by several other high profile prisoners who held dual nationality – his mother said he did not expect not to such a result the last time she saw him.

“During the visit, he said, ‘Stop imagining that you’re going to get me out. I will die in prison. Just make sure they pay for it,” Souief said.

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Reporting by Farah Saafan and Aidan Lewis; Editing by Alison Williams

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