Skip to main content

Alaa Abd El-Fattah

Volume 727: debated on Tuesday 31 January 2023

We are deeply concerned about the continued detention of Alaa Abd El-Fattah and are committed to supporting Mr El-Fattah and his family. Since Mr El-Fattah’s sentencing in December 2021, His Majesty’s Government have made numerous representations concerning his imprisonment, welfare and lack of consular access. This includes through successive interventions by Prime Ministers with President Sisi and engagement with senior Egyptian Government figures led by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and other Ministers.

We know from the Minister and the Prime Minister that the Government have been in discussions with Egypt about ensuring the release of British national Alaa Abd El-Fattah from prison, but little progress seems to have been made. Members of Alaa’s family are in the Gallery today hoping for good news, so will the Minister commit to a meeting with Alaa’s family to discuss at greater length what the UK Government are doing to place diplomatic pressure on Egypt on this matter?

I thank the hon. Member for her follow-up question, and I know through my conversations with her that she feels very strongly about this. We have been providing regular consular support to Mr El-Fattah’s family and recognise that they are here today, but my noble Friend Lord Ahmad, the Minister for the Middle East, has met family members previously. He will continue to closely engage with the family, keep them informed of developments and work with the Egyptian authorities on this case. It is an important case for us, absolutely.

Alaa Abd El-Fattah is a British citizen, as we know, and one of Egypt’s leading democracy campaigners who still remains in jail. The Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister have previously raised his case on numerous occasions, but Egypt still continues to prevent consular access and Alaa is no closer to being released. What is the diplomatic cost to that Government for denying consular access to a British citizen, and what precedent does it set when that access is denied without consequence?

As I said previously, the FCDO has been supporting Mr El-Fattah and his family, and it is a case that we have been supporting. We have long advocated for the release of Mr El-Fattah and other defendants, along with international partners. The issue is that, as the Egyptian authorities have not recognised his dual nationality, consular staff have been unable to visit him in prison. However, we are in regular contact through his lawyer and his family, and we are continuing to press for action in this case, including his release.