Alaa Abd El Fattah Surpasses 200 Days of Hunger Strike as COP27 Summit Nears

We remain gravely concerned about the deteriorating health of Alaa Abd El Fattah, the British-Egyptian activist, technologist, 2022 EFF Award winner, and Amnesty Prisoner of Conscience. Alaa has now been on hunger strike at Wadi el Natrun Prison in Egypt for more than 200 days, and was reported this week as being “at death’s door” by the UK’s Independent.

World leaders, including UK Prime Minister Liz Truss, are set to gather soon in Egypt for the COP27 climate summit, despite the country’s ongoing crackdown on civil society, which UN experts have criticized as potentially jeopardizing “safety and full participation” at the summit.

Meanwhile, Alaa remains in prison, only able to communicate with his family through letters and monthly twenty-minute visits. A recent Facebook post from his sister Mona details the government’s petty and biased treatment of Alaa, such as withholding a radio that every other prisoner on his block was allowed, and confiscating a letter to his mother. He remains a scapegoat—a symbol to deter others from fighting for their basic rights.

The Egyptian government is ultimately responsible for setting Alaa free. But Alaa is a British citizen and the UK government should also intervene, immediately, to do everything it can to uphold Alaa’s human rights and secure his freedom. In her last days as foreign secretary, now-PM Liz Truss called Alaa’s case a “high priority” and affirmed a commitment to secure his release.

As COP27 draws nearer, Alaa’s sister has initiated a sit-in outside of the UK foreign office, with organizations including Reporters Without Borders and English PEN demonstrating their support. Meanwhile, the campaign to free Alaa continues to call on British citizens to write to their MPs and urge them to call for his release (note: this is an external and not an EFF campaign).

We are thrilled to be able to honor Alaa with the 2022 EFF Award for Democratic Reform Advocacy for his contributions to technology and society. But without his freedom, the honor is bittersweet. We once again urge Liz Truss to do everything in her power to secure Alaa’s release.

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