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Alaa Abd El Fattah

Mona Seif (center), sister of Egyptian-British political prisoner Alaa Abd El Fattah, holds a photo of her brother and his child during a November 6, 2022 candlelit vigil in London. (Photo: Rob Pinney/Getty Images)

'Proof of Life, At Last': Jailed Egyptian Political Prisoner Alaa Abd El Fattah Writes to His Mother

"How are you, Mama? I'm sure you're really worried about me," El Fattah's letter states. "From today I'm drinking water again so you can stop worrying until you see me yourself."

Brett Wilkins

Relatives of Alaa Abd El Fattah said Monday that they've received proof in the form of a letter that the jailed, hunger-striking Egyptian-British dissident is alive.

"I'm so relieved. We just got a note from prison to my mother, Alaa is alive, he says he's drinking water again."

"How are you, Mama? I'm sure you're really worried about me," El Fattah's letter, which is dated November 12, begins. "From today I'm drinking water again so you can stop worrying until you see me yourself. Vital signs today are OK. I'm measuring regularly and receiving medical attention."

The 40-year-old father—who according to Egyptian authorities received a "medical intervention" last week—promises to write again and asks his mother to bring him an MP3 player and vitamins when she is able to visit.

Sanaa Seif, El Fattah's sister, tweeted: "I'm so relieved. We just got a note from prison to my mother, Alaa is alive, he says he's drinking water again... He says he'll say more as soon as he can. It's definitely his handwriting. Proof of life, at last."

"Today is the first day I've been able to take a proper breath in eight days," Seif told the BBC. "Now we know he's alive. I'd know his handwriting anywhere. But when I read [the letter] again and again it leaves me with more questions. Why have they been refusing his lawyer access to him, even with a permit?  Why did they hold this letter back from us for two days? Is it just cruelty to punish the family for speaking up?"

Khaled Ali, an attorney representing El Fattah's family, said on Facebook Monday that Alaa also wrote in the letter that he was "fine and under medical supervision."

El Fattah has been imprisoned for most of the past decade for his activism. He played a prominent role in the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings that swept the Middle East in the early 2010s and is currently serving a five-year sentence for allegedly disseminating "false news undermining national security," a common charge used to silence activists in the Middle Eastern country run by authoritarian President Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Subjected to torture by beating, solitary confinement, and other methods, El Fattah began his hunger strike 206 days ago on April 2. Earlier this month—with his health already dangerously deteriorated—he stopped drinking water as world leaders, activists, and others gathered in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP27.

World leaders, human rights groups, Nobel laureates, climate activists, and others have called for the release of El Fattah and the tens of thousands of other political prisoners jailed in Egypt. Demonstrations in Egypt, Britain, the United States, and elsewhere have demanded the dissident's immediate release.

In a Monday interview with Times Radio, U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said he was keeping "a very, very close eye on this case."

"What we will do," he said, "is we will keep working to secure consular access because he is British dual national and that is what we expect and we'll keep pushing to get resolution on this long standing and very difficult case."

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