August 21, 2014 | By Jillian York

MLDI and EFF Petition the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in the Case of Alaa Abd El Fattah

Update: On August 18, after being released briefly to visit his ailing father in the hospital, Alaa Abd El Fattah wrote this open letter explaining the reasons for his hunger strike. On August 27, his father, renowned human rights lawyer Ahmed Seif, passed away. We will continue to campaign for Alaa's swift release.

Alaa Abd El Fattah is currently serving a fifteen-year prison sentence for spurious accusations made in connection with his longstanding and influential activism. The Egyptian blogger and activist, who was sentenced in June, has faced years of harassment and arrests from each successive Egyptian government for his work.

EFF has partnered with the Media Legal Defence Initiative—which provides support to bloggers, journalists, and independent media around the world—to submit a petition to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD). The petition was also supported by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network. We assert that Alaa Abd El Fattah was arbitrarily arrested and detained while exercising, or in situations connected to the exercise of, his right to freedom of opinion and expression, to freedom of association, and the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs, rights guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Egypt is party.

On August 18, Abd El Fattah's family announced on Facebook that he had begun a hunger strike, to continue until he achieves his freedom. In the statement, Abd El Fattah was quoted as saying: "I will no longer play the role they’ve written for me."

Like Abd El Fattah's family, we are concerned for his well-being and hold the Egyptian authorities responsible for his safety and health. The petition, submitted on August 21 to the UNWGAD, can be read in full below.

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