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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Alaa Abd El Fattah

Detained Since: September 29, 2019.

Charges: Broadcasting false news

Sentence: 5 years in prison, excluding 2 years of detainment

Biography: Alaa Abd El Fattah, who also goes by Alaa Seif Al-Islam, is an Egyptian activist, blogger, and software developer who holds dual British citizenship. Abd El Fattah’s pro-democracy activism came to prominence during the Arab Spring when he developed Arabic-language versions of important software and platforms. Abd El Fattah has been arrested and jailed multiple times since 2006. On September 29, 2019—only six months after having been conditionally released from a prior, unjust prison sentence—he was re-arrested and detained during a widespread crackdown on protests. While in detention, Abd El Fattah was beaten, threatened, held in solitary confinement, robbed, and left for nearly two years without a trial. On December 20, 2021, Abd El Fattah was sentenced to five years in prison on spurious charges of “broadcasting false news”—this does not include his prior two years of detention. In May, the state-appointed National Council for Human Rights agreed to transfer Abd El Fattah from Tora prison to Wadi El-Natrun prison, after hundreds filed a petition demanding his release due to his unjust imprisonment and the conditions at Tora.

On April 2, 2022, Abd El Fattah began an open hunger strike in protest of his conditions in prison and to demand recourse for the abuse he has been forced to endure. Concerns continue to mount over his physical state without proper nutrition. Additionally, his sister Sanna Seif was harassed and abducted in 2020 after protesting outside the prison. Her treatment raises questions regarding the safety of Abd El Fattah’s family in Egypt.

Advocate: Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA)

Advocacy Partner: PEN America

Updates:

  • On November 3, 2022, Egypt Human Rights Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) released a statement calling on President Biden to push Egyptian President el-Sisi to release Abd El Fattah and other activists while attending COP27 in Egypt (November 3, 2022, Office of Rep. Don Beyer).
  • On November 6, 2022, the first day of the COP27 summit, Alaa Abd El Fattah escalated his hunger strike and began a “water strike” (November 7, 2022, BBC). He forewarned about his plans to escalate the strike during the week prior to the conference (November 1, 2022, CBS).
  • On November 8, 2022, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, called on the Egyptian government to release Abd El Fattah, stating that “[he] is in great danger. His dry hunger strike puts his life at acute risk” (November 8, 2022, OHCHR).
  • After three days with no updates on Abd El Fattah’s condition, and increasing concern about his status, on November 10, 2022, prison officials informed his family that he underwent “a medical intervention with the knowledge of a judicial authority", the specifics of which were unspecified. Later that day, Abd El Fattah’s lawyer was denied entry to the prison facility where he is detained, despite receiving approval to visit him (November 10, 2022, Washington Post).