Skip to main content

Family of Alaa Abd el-Fattah lambast absent Liz Truss

Imprisoned British-Egyptian activist's family grows concerned after prison authorities say he refused visit with his mother on Sunday
Liz Truss, Britain's Foreign Secretary and contender to become the country's next prime minister, arrives to appear on the BBC's 'The UK's Next Prime Minister: The Debate' in Victoria Hall in Stoke-on-Trent, central England, on July 25, 2022 (AFP)
Liz Truss arrives to appear on the BBC's The UK's Next Prime Minister: The Debate, in Stoke-on-Trent, England, on 25 July 2022 (AFP)

The family of imprisoned British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah have fiercely criticised UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss for her lack of involvement in his case, citing her focus on taking part in the Conservative Party leadership election.

Truss had previously stated her intention to raise Abd el-Fattah's case with the Egyptian authorities. The leading activist, who acquired British citizenship through his mother last year, has been on hunger strike since April in protest against the denial of consular visits.

"I assure the honourable lady that we are working hard to secure Alaa Abdel Fattah's release," Truss told the House of Commons in June, ahead of a meeting with her Egyptian counterpart in London.

Since then, however, Truss has been primarily concerned with taking part in the contest to succeed former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who resigned in early July following a series of scandals.

Alaa Abd el-Fattah: Prominent Egyptian activist marks 100 days of hunger strike
Read More »

Writing on Twitter, Abd el-Fattah's sister, Mona Seif, accused Truss of focusing on winning the Conservative Party leadership race at the expense of her ministerial duties

"I am exasperated! Honestly it just feels like she is intentionally dismissing our plight and her responsibility towards us!" wrote Seif.

"Where are you Liz Truss, from what's happening to Alaa!!!"

Abd el-Fattah was an icon of the 2011 Egyptian revolution and has spent eight out of the last 10 years in jail on a range of charges.

While incarcerated in December 2021, he was sentenced to five years in prison by an emergency state security court on charges of "broadcasting false news" in a trial widely condemned by human rights defenders.

The evidence used against him was a retweet.

His family has grown increasingly worried after they received a message from Egyptian authorities claiming that Abd el-Fattah was refusing to receive a visit from his mother in prison on Sunday.

Consular visits have been banned by the Egyptian authorities and the family are deeply sceptical of the excuse given by the prison authorities, pointing out that he had never refused family visits before.

"We don't know what's happening in that black hole that took Alaa away from us, we have to fight for every single basic right for him and us, and every week something new happens that throws us into a loop of worry, anger and unanswered questions," Seif tweeted on Sunday.

'Being processed'

Earlier this month, Abd el-Fattah's family told Middle East Eye of their struggle to arrange a meeting with Truss to discuss their brother's plight.

“We’ve been requesting a meeting with the foreign secretary and what we hear is that the meeting is ‘being processed’," said Abd el-Fattah's other sister, Sanaa Seif, speaking during a demonstration outside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on 4 July.

Silence for arms: Egypt’s secret deal with the EU
Read More »

Mona Seif told MEE at the same demonstration that they were growing distressed about Abd el-Fattah's psychological and physical health.

“We feel like if it doesn’t happen now, it isn’t going to happen," she explained.

"Alaa has been in prison since 2013. Every time they release him, they find an excuse to get him back."

Concerns were raised last year that Abd el-Fattah's conditions were such that he had been pushed into a "suicidal" state.

During his incarceration in Tora Prison, he was denied reading materials, a bed, and even a clock.

Egyptian officials have questioned his family's assertions that he was on hunger strike and claimed it has footage that "disproves" the claim.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.