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Truss ‘too slow’ in helping activist jailed by Egypt

THE government has been “far too slow to act” in seeking the release of Egyptian-British activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who is on hunger strike in a prison near Cairo as his fate “hangs in the balance,” Amnesty International told the Morning Star yesterday. 

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told MPs on June 21 that she was working to secure Mr Fattah’s release and is seeking a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry when he visits Britain, which is expected this week. 

Mr Fattah is a 40-year-old “pro-democracy” activist and blogger who first became widely known during the 2011 uprising in Egypt that forced the resignation of then president Hosni Mubarak.

Since Abdul Fattah al-Sisi became president in 2014, the activist has mostly been in prison or police detention.

The news that the Foreign Secretary intends to intervene in the case was welcomed by Mr Fattah’s family, with Mona Seif, one of his sisters, calling it “an incredible relief,” but they also warned that time is “running out.” 

Eilidh Macpherson, an Amnesty International UK campaign manager focusing on individuals at risk, told the Morning Star that Mr Shoukry’s visit was a “golden opportunity for Liz Truss to finally act decisively on behalf of Alaa.

“Having suffered a catalogue of abuse during his more than 1,000 gruelling days in jail and now increasingly weak after an extended hunger strike, Alaa’s fate hangs in the balance,” she said. 

Mr Macpherson added: “As with recent cases of UK nationals in Iran, we remain worried that our government is far too slow to act.

“The government must prioritise the cases of UK nationals arbitrarily detained overseas and do everything in its power to immediately and unconditionally secure their release.”

Amnesty will hold a protest outside the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in London today to demand Mr Fattah’s release.

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