Alarm about mental state of Egyptian blogger held for past two years
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of Alaa Abdel Fattah, an Egyptian blogger who has been imprisoned for the past two years and whose mental state is now alarming. The Egyptian authorities will be held responsible for whatever happens to him, RSF says.
“For the first time, I found Alaa in a psychological state that makes him want to commit suicide,” said his lawyer, Khaled Ali, who spoke with him after a court hearing yesterday at which his pre-trial detention was extended again. He is charged with membership of a terrorist group, spreading false information, and abusing social networks.
“Alaa Abdel Fattah is now in a situation of imminent danger,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “It is obvious this blogger should not have been in prison for the past two years. This unjust deprivation of his freedom and his basic rights is now endangering his health. We urge the authorities to let a doctor examine him immediately, and to release him without delay. We will hold them responsible for his fate.”
It was only after repeated requests that Ali was able to speak with his client briefly yesterday and hear him make the comments that prompted Ali to issue an urgent appeal.
Stressing the need to transfer Abdel Fattah out of the high security prison where he is currently held, Ali said a complaint has already been filed against the prison administration about the torture to which he was subjected as soon as he arrived in the prison. He must be examined by a doctor as a matter of urgency, and must be allowed family visits, his lawyer added.
Abdel Fattah’s family say they are desperate. “We have tried all available legal avenues, we have appealed to all parties and to all officials, we have used all means of peaceful protest (...) and now this is where we are,” the family said.
Abdel Fattah was arrested on 29 September 2019, six months after being released conditionally in March 2019 after a previous long spell in prison that began in February 2015. The judicial authorities placed him on a “terrorist list” in November 2020, which led to his bank account being frozen.
A total of 28 journalists are currently held in Egypt, which is ranked 166th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.