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Hannah Neumann meeting Sanaa Seif

Alaa Abdel Fattah must be released!

Alaa Abdel Fattah has now been in detention for more than 1000 days. The Egyptian-British citizen and his lawyer Mohamed Baker were arrested in September 2019 and sentenced by an Egyptian state security court in December 2021 to five and four years in prison respectively – for "spreading false news".

Alaa Abdel Fattah had a prominent role in the 2011 revolution, and the authorities know that he is a symbol of resistance in Egypt and the entire region. They are therefore doing everything they can to silence him and deter others.

Since April 2nd, Alaa Abdel Fattah has been on hunger strike to protest against the inhumane conditions he is subjected to in prison. Last week I met his sister Sanaa Seif in Brussels. Among other things, we talked about how international pressure, especially from the EU, can be used to stop repression against Egyptian human rights activists.

The Egyptian government must release Alaa Abdel Fattah and allow him to travel to the UK. Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is keen to polish up his country's international image: A human rights strategy has been adopted and the UN conference on climate change will be held in Egypt at the end of the year. However, real progress on human rights also requires concrete action. The release of Alaa Abdel Fattah would be a step in the right direction.

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