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Liz Truss accused of ignoring British activist on hunger strike in Egypt | Foreign Police

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The family of British activist Alaa Abd El Fattah have accused Foreign Secretary Liz Truss of ignoring his case in favor of his bid to lead the Conservative party as he reached his 114th day on strike hunger in the Egyptian desert of Wadi El Natrun. jail.

Abd El Fattah, a leading figure in Egypt’s 2011 uprisings, has spent most of the past decade behind bars and was sentenced last December to an additional five years in prison for terrorism and “spreading false news” after he shared a social media post. He was granted British citizenship while incarcerated last year, but British officials have since been blocked by the Egyptian side when they attempted to visit him in prison.

Since Truss launched her leadership bid on July 11, there has been little evidence that she has committed herself to Abd El Fattah’s case as each passing day raises the risk that he will die in prison. .

“He passed the 110-day threshold. These are ridiculous numbers,” said Mona Seif, Abd El Fattah’s sister. “It looks like since the start of the Tory leadership race, Truss has completely dropped Alaa’s case.”

Truss told parliament in late June: “We are working very hard to secure his release” and raised Abd El Fattah’s case during a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in London on July 5, ahead of a meeting on the UK. -Trade agreements with Egypt. Trade between the UK and Egypt was worth £3.3billion last year, while Britain has approved £149million in arms licenses to Egypt since 2019.

Sanaa Seif, the sister of Abd El Fattah, who also obtained British citizenship last year, said: “The team at the UK Embassy in Cairo continues to be responsive, but it’s the case since day one. It is always the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London which has been slow. I thought that would change when the Foreign Secretary told Parliament that she was working on the release, that the clock was really going to start to turn, but nothing happened.

Although he pledged to take on Abd El Fattah’s case in June, Truss has yet to meet his family. Foreign Secretary Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon has promised to debrief Abd El Fattah’s family since he also met Shoukry in early July, but that has not happened.

“Truss did not respond positively or negatively to our request for a meeting, but the slowness is really worrying. There is no doubt that the UK government needs to act with more urgency,” said Sanaa Seif.

Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy said: “These are serious times and the role of Foreign Secretary is far too important to be a part-time job. Alaa’s plight has not been suspended for the Conservative leadership election. He needs urgent government intervention now, starting with a meeting with Alaa’s family.

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A Foreign Ministry spokesperson declined to provide examples of Truss’s or Ahmad’s involvement in Abd El Fattah’s case since Truss began his bid for the Conservative Party leadership, or since their respective meetings with Shoukry in early July.

“The UK government continues to raise the case of Alaa Abd El Fattah at the highest levels of the Egyptian government, including at the recent Foreign Secretary’s meeting with the Egyptian Foreign Minister. We are working urgently to ensure consular access to Mr. Abd El Fattah and urge the Egyptian authorities to ensure that his social needs are met,” they said.

Richard Ratcliffe, who had previously staged a sit-in and hunger strike outside the FCDO to demand Truss’ commitment to release his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, while she was detained in Iran, said: “The fundamental problem is not the minister, but the approach of the government. The advice to vulnerable people to keep quiet while their loved ones are being abused is deeply cynical. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was released from detention and returned to the UK in March.

Government policy is indeed to gaslight [families of detainees]and value good relations and business opportunities with those in power elsewhere,” Ratcliffe said.

Abd El Fattah’s family say Egyptian authorities have created obstacles to accepting his British citizenship, blocking efforts to visit or release him. “It’s up to Liz Truss to decide that she’s fed up with this insulting attitude from the Egyptian authorities, and that it’s time to take a tough stance,” Mona Seif said.