By Karen Smith, CNN
The sister of Alaa Abd El-Fattah said Tuesday that she had received a letter saying the imprisoned British-Egyptian activist had ended his hunger strike after more than 200 days.
“The important thing is I want to celebrate my birthday with you on Thursday, I haven’t celebrated for a long time, and want to celebrate with my cellmates, so bring a cake, normal provisions, I’ve broken my strike,” reads one part of the letter, purportedly from Abd El-Fattah and addressed to his mother, which was posted on Sanaa Seif’s Twitter account.
“We just got this letter. Alaa has broken his hunger strike. I don’t know what’s happening inside, but our family visit is scheduled for Thursday and he’s saying to bring a cake to celebrate his birthday. #FreeAlaa,” Seif wrote, along with a picture of the letter.
Earlier this month, Abd El-Fattah escalated a more than 200-day hunger strike and stopped drinking water as world leaders began to gather in Egypt for the COP27 climate summit.
The plight of the Arab Spring activist has cast a shadow over the event and led to renewed calls for his release, including from Amnesty International. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also raised Abd El-Fattah’s case while attending COP27.
Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, said Abd El-Fattah’s situation was a “judicial matter” and claimed he had received a “fair trial.”
On Monday, Seif said on Twitter that Egyptian prison officials sent a note to her mother saying Abd El-Fattah was alive and had begun drinking water again on Saturday.
Seif held a news conference last week during which she said the family did not know if Abd El-Fattah was alive. Egyptian authorities have repeatedly resisted calls to release him.
Abd El-Fattah was a leading activist in Egypt’s 2011 uprising, which toppled the government of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Mubarak’s democratically elected successor was ousted in a coup and replaced by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the current president, under whose rule civil society and free speech has been stifled.
Abd El-Fattah has spent much of the past decade in prison on charges that activists say are politically motivated. In 2019 he was sentenced to a further five years in prison for allegedly spreading false news after sharing a Facebook post highlighting human rights abuses in Egyptian jails.
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CNN’s Niamh Kennedy contributed reporting.