France and Britain stand up for imprisoned Egyptian dissidents

The Elysee Palace said Macron had called for Abdel Fattah's release in talks with Egypt's head of state Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

France and Britain stand up for imprisoned Egyptian dissidents

The Elysee Palace said Macron had called for Abdel Fattah's release in talks with Egypt's head of state Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. At the meeting, he addressed the cases of several prisoners, the French President said on the sidelines of the UN climate conference. Macron expressed hope that the "next weeks or the next few months" would yield results.

Prime Minister Sunak had previously called Abdel Fattah's plight a "priority". After meeting al-Sisi on Monday evening, the British Prime Minister said he hoped for a quick solution and would continue to push for progress, according to a spokesman.

British-Egyptian journalist and activist Abdel Fattah was a key figure in the 2011 revolution that toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak. Since the end of last year he has been serving a five-year prison sentence for "spreading false news". He has already spent much of the past decade in prison.

Seven months ago, Abdel Fattah began a hunger strike during which he ate just 100 calories a day. He has been refusing any food since Tuesday and, according to his sister Sanaa Seif, stopped drinking on Sunday. Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard said there was not much time left about the life expectancy of the activist. "72 hours at best."

Three Egyptian journalists began a hunger strike in support of detained dissidents on Monday. "We have now stopped eating because Alaa Abdel Fattah is threatening to die," Mona Selim told the AFP news agency during a sit-in at the journalists' union building in Cairo. Together with her colleagues Eman Uf and Ratscha Asab, she also called for the "release of all political prisoners".

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri told CNBC that Abdel Fattah was receiving all "necessary care" in prison. His relatives, however, reject the information.

It is not yet known what condition the prisoner is in now. Abdel Fattah's sister Sanaa Seif told AFP that her mother waited for hours outside the prison on Monday without receiving any information about her son's condition.

"We're talking about an innocent man who has unjustly spent nine years in prison," said Sanaa Seif. She put all hope in the efforts of the British delegation - "because as a sister I can't just throw in the towel or tell myself that my brother is going to die".

"The way his case is being handled only accelerates the destabilization of the regime," the human rights activist said. The ball is now in the politicians' field. "We continue the fight and must not lose hope."

Human rights groups estimate there are 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt. Egypt is 168th out of 180 in the Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.

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