COP27 Is Over But Alaa Abd El-Fattah Remains a Political Prisoner

In a wide-ranging interview recorded in Cairo, we converse with Laila Soueif and Sanaa Seif, the mom and sister of British-Egyptian political prisoner Alaa Abd El-Fattah, about his well being, his case, his household and his hopes for freedom. After visiting him in jail, they describe how El-Fattah began a water strike on the primary day of the U.N. local weather convention in Sharm el-Sheikh to attract worldwide consideration to the nation’s human rights violations and protest his seemingly indefinite imprisonment. He paused after collapsing and struggling a “near-death expertise” when jail officers appeared reluctant to file his full water and starvation strike. Seif says they set a date to restart his starvation strike, as soon as he regains bodily and psychological power. Laila Soueif discusses how El-Fattah helped her elevate his two youthful sisters when her now-deceased husband was in jail for his personal activism. In addition they describe his relationship together with his son, Khaled, who’s nonverbal and identified with autism, calling El-Fattah a “affected person, variety father.” Recalling his most up-to-date trial, they lay out how he was sentenced to 5 years in jail final December, and clarify how El-Fattah’s attorneys by no means had entry to the case trial or had been allowed to argue his case. “There may be clearly a vendetta” in opposition to El-Fattah, notes Seif, who provides “it’s pointless to speak concerning the authorized procedures [since] every step of it’s a sham.” Seif additionally speaks concerning the mass imprisonment of different political prisoners and the key affect and duty the U.S. has in liberating El-Fattah and others. “This complete operation [in Egypt] is a U.S. operation,” says Soueif, who says she needs El-Fattah freed and deported to the U.Ok. to maintain him protected.


It is a rush transcript. Copy might not be in its closing kind.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re in downtown Cairo, Egypt. The Nile River flows behind me. Right now we spend the hour bringing you an interview I did this weekend after we flew into Cairo from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the place we lined the U.N. local weather summit.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re in Cairo, Egypt, within the residence of Laila Soueif. She is the mom of Alaa Abd El-Fattah, who’s imprisoned in Egypt for many of the final decade. We’re joined proper now by Laila Soueif, who’s a math professor at Cairo College, and her daughter, Alaa’s sister, Sanaa Seif. They only lately visited Alaa in jail. They hadn’t seen him for quite a lot of weeks. He has simply completed a seven-month starvation quick. The final days of that quick, he stopped consuming water, throughout COP27, the U.N. local weather summit right here in Sharm el-Sheikh, not removed from right here, in Egypt.

I needed to begin by asking you each about your go to. You got here out of it shaken, seeing Alaa for the primary time in fairly a while, sitting behind glass as he spoke to you thru a — faintly via a telephone. Discuss what he instructed you.

LAILA SOUEIF: The go to occurred in a glass cabin, prefer it all the time occurs, which was disappointing. I had hoped it wouldn’t be like that. Alaa appeared much more skinny and extra weak than the final. Final time I noticed him was — earlier than this go to, was on the twenty fourth of October, so it had been over three weeks. He appeared actually much more frail, much more diminished. I assumed he appeared shorter, truly, not simply thinner, however shorter. And he was — he had — he was damage in his brow. He instructed us afterwards that he had hit — he had banged his head in opposition to the wall in an entire meltdown and tantrum and so forth. In order that’s the way it was.

Now, as a result of the go to was in a glass cabin with — you speak to him via a telephone, so just one individual may speak to him at a time. So, Sanaa received many of the go to in with Alaa. She’s the one who talked to him. I used to be simply trying, seeing him get [inaudible], and that’s it.

SANAA SEIF: Yeah, he recounted what had occurred. On Tuesday, he had a meltdown.

LAILA SOUEIF: He started to — he stopped consuming water on Sunday. So that you get the context, he stopped — he had stopped his 100 energy per week earlier than that, on the first of November. On Sunday, on the primary day of COP, on Sunday, the sixth, the primary day of COP, he stopped consuming water. After which, on Tuesday, two day — when he had already not been consuming water in any respect for 2 days — properly, Sanaa can let you know what occurred.

SANAA SEIF: He was — they needed to do a medical checkup for all of the cell, for all of the inmates. They had been reluctant to placed on file Alaa’s starvation strike or his water strike. And so, they had been taken to the medical facility, and he insisted on placing his water strike and starvation strike on file and admitting him to the medical facility. So, the officer began telling him that he’s not cooperating, that he’s refusing to do a medical checkup. He mentioned, “I’m not refusing. I simply need my starvation strike and my water strike to be placed on file.” After which they began — they received a brand new officer that he didn’t know, and he began coping with him roughly, like aggressively, speaking to him aggressively.

And so, he snapped. He misplaced it. And he mentioned, “I’m not leaving the medical facility.” In order that they began — they received a riot power to hold him forcibly again to his cell. It is a man who has stopped water for 3 days. And so, whereas they had been carrying him again to his cell, he — as he mentioned it, he mentioned, “I misplaced it. I don’t know what occurred, however I simply stored saying, ‘I promise I’ll do one thing to myself. I’ll damage myself if I’m not admitted, if my starvation strike isn’t placed on file.’” And so, after they put him again to his cell, he banged his head on the wall till it bled. This incident occurred on the eighth.

After which, on the eleventh, on Friday, he had calmed down. He was having a shower, and he collapsed within the lavatory. And that’s when he fainted. They usually did a medical intervention within the cell. Like, they took him outdoors of the lavatory, and the personnel entered the cell, they usually made a medical intervention within the cell. And he wakened. He was placed on IVs, on like a salt answer. It’s known as Ring —


SANAA SEIF: Ringer, and glucose. He began waking up, however he was nonetheless — he was nonetheless unable to, like, transfer or — and they’d put, like, honey in his mouth. And that’s how they introduced him again to life.

bq, So, what occurred on Friday — what occurred on Tuesday was a meltdown. What occurred on Friday was a near-death expertise. And he elaborated rather a lot on how this felt and the way — and when he was telling me — yeah, he was actually caught on that second. He stored saying that “I used to be relieved. And I received shocked later how a lot I used to be relieved that this complete factor is over. After which I began doubting whether or not I’m doing this to withstand. Am I preventing actually for all times, or am I simply drained and I need to be spared of this?” A great a part of the go to was on this elaboration of him, like, speaking about how a lot he felt aid by this near-death expertise.

So, he determined to take a break from the starvation strike. And he stopped, and he began taking meals. And he wrote us this letter saying, “Come, and I need to rejoice my birthday with you.” And he — within the go to, he was saying, like, “I needed to cease it and resolve whether or not I’m going again to my starvation strike or not.” However after the dialogue we had and after seeing his psychological state, my recommendation to him was, “No. Apparently you’re unstable, and also you’re very weak proper now. And the necessary factor is to maintain your sanity and hold you higher.”

AMY GOODMAN: Did he agree with you?

SANAA SEIF: Sure. He trusts our recommendation and judgment.

LAILA SOUEIF: Sure. And, in fact, it made a distinction to him that he heard for the primary time about all that’s being completed for him and about what occurred in COP, as a result of he had been utterly remoted. I imply, that’s a part of the purpose of conserving him from having a radio, conserving him from seeing newspapers, even authorities newspapers, as a result of he — you understand, you possibly can often guess what’s taking place, even when they put their very own tackle it. So, this insistence on not permitting him a radio, not permitting him newspapers, it’s consider to isolate him in order that he doesn’t know what is definitely taking place — besides when he sees us on visits. So, for him, this was all information. And all that had occurred, all that Sanaa had completed, all that Mona had completed, all of the messages of solidarity Alaa had gotten, all this was information to Alaa.

SANAA SEIF: Yeah, it was past his creativeness that there was a combat on the market for his freedom. Like, he was — his scope, his horizon was like on a music participant and the radio and discovering a technique to cling again to life. Like, we had been on completely totally different frequencies. He’s speaking from this very darkish place, and I’m telling him that “We’re going to get you out. There’s a huge combat of getting you out. We’re going to get you out.” And so, that, in fact, it shocked him. It was a shock to him. Nevertheless it additionally gave him some power.

AMY GOODMAN: Sanaa, you’ve completed, inside and out of doors of Egypt, galvanizing assist for Alaa and different political prisoners, holding a sit-in in Britain along with your sister Mona in entrance of the Overseas Ministry workplace. Additionally in the US, I noticed you as you spoke to grassroots teams, as you spoke to congressional leaders, speaking additionally about Alaa’s e-book, You Will Not But Be Defeated, as a result of he’s in jail and might’t do it himself, after which, in COP27, actually being the spearhead of a motion that’s bringing collectively the problem of local weather justice and human rights. Did you ever think about that you can have this impact?

SANAA SEIF: No, I by no means imagined. In fact, I used to be planning to attempt to use the convention to get some consideration on my brother and the human rights scenario in Egypt, however I by no means imagined that I’d be so fantastically adopted by the local weather motion and that they’d empower us. It was overwhelming and actually heartwarming. And I by no means imagined the size of media consideration or the solidarity that we’ve seen.

AMY GOODMAN: If you spoke to Alaa and also you talked concerning the sort of world assist that he’s getting, his assertion: “Any type of political organizing which will remedy our world crises has to stem from private solidarity. Like this.” How did he say this to you thru the glass, via that partition?

SANAA SEIF: So, that was after he recounted what occurred to him. We began telling him concerning the marketing campaign. So, it was beginning to hit him, after which I gave the speaker to my aunt so she will be able to additionally recount to him. So it’s not simply me; like, all people is saying it’s actually huge. And that’s after I assume it — I noticed it in his face, prefer it was beginning to hit him that there’s a world outdoors of this very darkish place he’s in proper now. And that’s when he mentioned this one sentence. It’s like part of him, this mental, political half, for a second received woke up, a glimpse of it. Nevertheless it — earlier than the go to ended, it turned shut once more. He closed on once more to this very darkish place he’s in proper now. However I’m glad this a part of his character exists and is current, and he simply must get out of jail for it to be — to essentially flourish.

AMY GOODMAN: Is Alaa planning to return on a starvation strike?

SANAA SEIF: Alaa, within the go to, he was telling me, “Ought to I’m going again tomorrow?” I mentioned, “No, wait.” I gave him a date. I’m not going to say that date publicly. However I do know they know the date. I instructed him, “Your physique wants a relaxation. But when this date comes with out me telling you in any other case, then you definately go on starvation strike.” So there’s a date set between me and Alaa and the Egyptian authorities.

AMY GOODMAN: Sanaa Seif and Laila Soueif, the sister and mom of political prisoner Alaa Abd El-Fattah. We’ll be again with them in 30 seconds.


AMY GOODMAN: Pink Floyd’s “Want You Had been Right here.” That is Democracy Now!,, The Conflict and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We proceed now with my interview right here in Cairo, Egypt, this weekend with Laila Soueif and Sanaa Seif, the mom and sister of the British-Egyptian political prisoner Alaa Abd El-Fattah.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you about what you probably did in Britain. Earlier than COP, you and your sister Mona had this sit-in, day and evening, in entrance of the British Overseas Ministry via the tip of the Prime Minister Truss to Rishi Sunak. What was the response in Britain? And clarify what you’re demanding. In fact, you, your sister Mona and Alaa himself are British-Egyptian residents.

SANAA SEIF: The identical consular entry and produce him to London, convey him residence to London. The British authorities may be very clear that Alaa is a British citizen. What we maintain them — what we’re very upset with is that they’re accepting the Egyptian narrative of not acknowledging his twin nationality.

AMY GOODMAN: What sort of response did you get to your sit-in?

SANAA SEIF: So, I sat outdoors the Overseas Workplace for 20 days. That is after we began seeing a brand new stage of solidarity from folks I didn’t count on. And so, it was — I assumed I’d be like very lonely. I don’t know lots of people in London. Nevertheless it was very — it was very heartwarming, the quantity of solidarity I noticed.

We began getting consideration from politicians. I received consideration from MPs. Numerous MPs visited me. And our MP, David Lammy, got here the primary day. However we began getting consideration from the federal government within the — close to the tip, proper earlier than COP, after we received a telephone name from the international secretary, James Cleverly. After which I received this letter as a response from the prime minister, Rishi Sunak.

AMY GOODMAN: After you got here out of the jail, the place you noticed Alaa, you didn’t go first to the British authorities to inform them what had occurred. You went on to the media. Why, Sanaa?

SANAA SEIF: I used to be actually, actually offended and upset that whereas Alaa was enduring all of this horrible expertise, this was taking place on the identical time whereas governments had been getting assurances that Alaa’s well being might be preserved. So, I used to be actually offended at all the backdoor guarantees and all of — I felt like I’ve been going about it the fallacious manner, believing in these guarantees. And this time, these usually are not guarantees that had been made at midnight, like these usually are not guarantees that had been made privately. Sisi — President Macron of France mentioned that Sisi instructed him that he commits to preserving Alaa’s well being on Monday, and on that very same day — or, on Sunday, and on the second day, a day after, a unit handled Alaa forcibly. So I used to be feeling actually offended, and I misplaced religion in that course of, in that sort of course of.

AMY GOODMAN: Laila, inform us about your son Alaa.

LAILA SOUEIF: Alaa, particularly, is — there’s a particular bond between us, as a result of for 4 years — for 5 years, his father was in jail. And earlier than Mona was born, he would — and it was me and Alaa, me and Alaa in France with me doing my Ph.D., with Seif in jail. Then, even when Mona was born, Mona was the infant. You understand, he was the older brother. He was the one who was serving to me.

I used to be simply remembering immediately, truly, there was today in England — in France, the place I had this horrible chilly, and I used to be very in poor health, and I overslept. And I wakened terrified, as a result of, you understand, I overslept with a 5-year-old little one and a 6-month-old child in the home with no person to feed them or change. And I didn’t perceive why Mona hadn’t cried out. I received up, and Alaa had gotten up, taken care of Mona — he was 6 or 5 or one thing — and altered her, was taking part in along with her very properly and quietly. I mentioned, “Why didn’t you wake me?” And he mentioned, “Mama, you had been sick.” And for me, that’s Alaa. He was all the time — as a result of he was older and since we had been alone collectively when his father was in jail, there was a really particular bond, a really particular bond.

AMY GOODMAN: You had been alone taking good care of your two kids, Alaa and your 6-month-old child Mona, as a result of your husband, Ahmed Seif, was in jail.

LAILA SOUEIF: At the moment, he was a communist, and he continued to be a communist in conviction. At the moment he was a part of a communist group, truly. And he was arrested and tortured, and confessions obtained from him, and eventually sentenced to 5 years. It was a bit like Alaa’s trial, in that they got here out on bail after which had been tried after they had been out, after which they had been arrested once more, and so forth. So, that’s how I — how we received Mona. Mona was born whereas her father was in jail. Sanaa was the one we received after he got here out, the one we celebrated with. Alaa, after we received Sanaa, he was 12 years outdated. So, for him, she was, you understand, someplace between — someplace in between a sister and a daughter.

AMY GOODMAN: Discuss that, Sanaa, how Alaa was not simply your huge brother but additionally a father determine to you, 12 years older.

SANAA SEIF: Yeah, he was like — we’re mates. We’ve got a really comparable style in music and in artwork. But additionally, due to the age distinction and due to that dynamic, he was additionally like a mentor to me. He’s my — all the time my largest champion. I used to be this bohemian little one who modified her thoughts about what I need to do with life each month in all probability. However he was all the time like very excited to the brand new thought or challenge. So, I need sculpting, so he would, like, analysis and discover a place, and we’d go, and I realized sculpting for some time. Then I — simply I like pandas, and I need to be a vet. After which he goes and devotes additionally loads of time and analysis into, “OK, let’s research pandas,” till — and portray, and till I settled on filmmaking.

And by the point I settled on filmmaking, no person had believed me. Like, in fact, “Simply wait it out. Sleep on it, honey.” However Alaa was like, “No, no.” He was very excited. And I settled on filmmaking actually. And my first laptop computer, the place I used — what I used for enhancing, Alaa was the one who received it. I imply, in fact, he requested you all to pitch in, nevertheless it was his challenge. My first-ever filmmaking workshop, my first set was his mates. He had mates who labored in filmmaking, they usually took me with them so I can see a movie set.

AMY GOODMAN: Sanaa, as a filmmaker, you helped Jehane Noujaim make The Sq., the Oscar-nominated documentary concerning the rebellion at Tahrir Sq..

SANAA SEIF: Yeah, I wasn’t as — I used to be attempting to — I used to be very immune to the household. I didn’t need to be in politics like the remainder of my household. However 2011 received me. So, I used to be — earlier than 2011, I used to be very disinterested. I didn’t need to know something about their political activism. And it wasn’t the one factor in life, proper? We had — it was a part of their identification, nevertheless it wasn’t the dominating half. However 2011 actually impressed me. I used to be 17. And it was — I went to the primary demonstration by coincidence, however then it was actually inspiring to me and to my complete era, actually.

AMY GOODMAN: Sanaa, when did you first go to jail? You may have been in jail for greater than three years.

SANAA SEIF: 2014, throughout Sisi.

AMY GOODMAN: Three years after —


AMY GOODMAN: — the Arab Spring?

SANAA SEIF: Yeah, it was throughout Sisi, in fact. I used to be a part of an indication that was calling for the discharge of political prisoners and never anti — there was this new demonstration legislation, anti-protest legislation. And so, I used to be a part of it, and I received arrested. My primary motivation then was actually private. It was apparent that the revolution was defeated. And I feel if it wasn’t for my brother being in jail, I’d have tried to step out of that, to simply return to my regular life. However Alaa was in jail, and so I used to be advocating for political prisoners. And that’s how I received arrested. And I used to be sentenced to 2 years, however then I received a — I received pardoned. I received a presidential pardon after a yr and three months.

AMY GOODMAN: You may have gone on starvation strike. Are you able to describe the way it feels, the phases you undergo?

SANAA SEIF: I used to be on starvation strike. I went on starvation strike solely as soon as, for 72 days. It wasn’t partial; it was a full strike. Like, I didn’t take any —

LAILA SOUEIF: It was water and salt.

SANAA SEIF: Water and salt, yeah. What occurs is that by the fifth day, you cease feeling hungry. Like, you don’t truly really feel — you don’t starve. One way or the other the physique understands that it’s not going to get meals. However there are phases. It begins — so, the physique wants power, so it begins by breaking the — like, the additional fats, utilizing the additional fats to get power. After that, after it’s completed with additional fats, it will get into break muscle groups to get power. And that’s a really painful section. After the breaking of the muscle groups, it resorts to necessary fat. These are fat which can be conserving the organs collectively, which can be in between organs. And these are just like the fat which can be behind the eyes. That’s why I used to be actually shocked after I noticed Alaa in August, as a result of his eyes appeared sunken. And I bear in mind after I did my analysis earlier than my starvation strike that meaning we’re at a really essential section.

By day 70, I feel, by the tip, they did make a medical intervention. I had already my — my blood stress was very low. So, I’d take salt options, salt sachets. So, it wasn’t sufficient. So I accepted a cannula, and I accepted salt. I didn’t settle for glucose. So I had a cannula.


SANAA SEIF: Yeah, on IVs. So, by the tip of it, I had fainted, or one thing had occurred. I wakened. I discovered that I’m placed on glucose. However the best way they did it was a lot softer than how my brother defined, like what I heard from Alaa. I used to be in a hospital. The individuals who had been coping with me had been docs. They weren’t civilians. They had been police docs, however they had been docs, not guards, not — I wasn’t in my cell.

AMY GOODMAN: That is so painful to boost, however you and Alaa had been in jail when your father, Ahmed Seif, died.

SANAA SEIF: It’s a horrible information whenever you hear it wherever. It was a shock. Like, I don’t assume it might have been simpler to understand if I used to be outdoors of jail. It’s simply the loneliness of dwelling this by yourself, not with your loved ones, and understanding that also they are lonely, understanding that Mama and my sister, they don’t have us round them. I used to be — I handled it with denial at first, and it was — whenever you lose your father, that’s horrible information to listen to wherever.

However later, I turned offended, as a result of I noticed — I recalled his final go to. And I recalled — and I began — he wasn’t that sick, proper? He turned extra sick. His coronary heart turned extra sick after I was arrested and when he attended my trial. And that’s after I was actually fueled with anger. I didn’t notice the size of the viciousness in opposition to my household till my father’s funeral, after I — after the funeral. So, each of us, me and Alaa, we attended the funeral as inmates.

AMY GOODMAN: Laila, are you able to discuss your husband’s life? And what did it imply to him on the finish of his life that two of his three kids, Sanaa and Alaa, had been each in jail?

LAILA SOUEIF: First, I need to spotlight how totally different prisons at the moment had been from prisons now, as a result of it highlights the distinction between a regime which is repressive and corrupt and all the pieces however is rational, and a regime which has gone mad. In the course of the Mubarak period, as soon as they tortured you and received what they needed from you, they left you alone to handle any — OK, you’re in jail, however you can research. You might, you understand, do no matter but.

So he studied legislation. He completed his legislation diploma just some months earlier than being launched. And his thought was primarily to be a lawyer and to do some professional bono human rights work. After which the professional bono human rights work took over his life, till he wasn’t doing the rest and wasn’t incomes any cash, as a result of it was professional bono. And everybody began telling him, “Simply come and work with us, as a result of we’d like you, and we’d like you, and we wish you to be.” And he turned this superb human rights lawyer who was actually, actually, actually very clear about and targeted on human rights. So, that was Seif.

AMY GOODMAN: Laila, what did it imply to your husband on the finish of his life that two of his three kids weren’t with him?

LAILA SOUEIF: Yeah, yeah. He even talked about that. He mentioned — there’s this well-known quote of Seif saying, “I’m sorry, my son, that as a substitute of my heritage being a extra free and democratic society, my heritage is that the identical cell that I used to be in ought to see you in it.”

AMY GOODMAN: Now let’s speak concerning the subsequent era, about Alaa’s son, Khaled. He’s virtually 11. He’s nonverbal. Are you able to speak concerning the day in 2013 when Alaa was arrested at residence?

SANAA SEIF: So, after the raid, after the — after they forcibly took Alaa from — we weren’t positive whether or not Khaled was on the opposite facet of the home. So, the police forces entered to the bed room the place Alaa and his spouse had been, and Khaled was in his room. So, we —

AMY GOODMAN: He was like 2.

SANAA SEIF: He was 2. Sure, he was 2. Yeah. We weren’t positive — he appeared asleep. His mother — after the police left, his mother ran to Khaled, and Khaled appeared asleep. However we weren’t positive whether or not he was conscious and simply faking sleep or not.

Afterwards, Khaled was identified with — that he’s on the spectrum. And for some time, we weren’t positive whether or not this can be a trauma or whether or not he’s truly on the spectrum, why is he nonverbal. With time, it was settled that he’s on the spectrum, he’s nonverbal, and there was a trauma, however that’s one thing else.

However Khaled has by no means had a steady life. Youngsters usually want a steady life, however youngsters on the spectrum, youngsters with autism, want a steady life. And we’ve tried all the pieces. Like, it’s not — it doesn’t work with out his father being in his life. He’s actually, actually connected to his father, though they haven’t spent loads of time collectively. So, when Khaled impulsively isn’t allowed to go to Alaa, he will get actually, actually — he acts out, and he will get offended, and he expresses that. And it’s very exhausting to have something steady for Khaled, as a result of, you understand, we negotiate some type of technique to get Khaled to go to his father, however then they alter the principles, or they resolve that visits are behind a glass protect, or Alaa is now in a facility — was in a facility the place he received tortured, and his torturer is current through the go to. So, you possibly can’t have a child current the place issues that horrible and that epic occur, and we’ve got to vary Khaled’s routine. And it’s very apparent that he’s actually — he’s connected to his father, and he’s actually offended that the system retains altering.

When Alaa was briefly launched in 2019, Alaa completed his five-year sentence, and he was launched for six months. After which he was rearrested. Though he was — Alaa was on probation, so he needed to current himself to the police station from 6 p.m. to six a.m., however he nonetheless had half of the day of freedom, from 6 a.m. to six p.m. That transient interval actually mattered with Khaled. They constructed a brand new stunning relationship. And even all the individuals who work — the professionals who work on Khaled’s case, such because the speech therapist and psychologist, all of them seen. It’s not simply us, the household, or his mother. All of them mentioned that there was nice enchancment. This actually has — it actually issues to the child to have his father. He’s actually connected to his father, and he wants his father. And Alaa is a really affected person, variety father, who —

LAILA SOUEIF: Imaginative.

SANAA SEIF: Imaginative, who reads, who likes to do analysis. So, each time he had entry to books, he learn rather a lot, rather a lot, and studied rather a lot about autism and what’s finest to do. Numerous our letters are about that. So, the transient time when Alaa was out, it was a good time for Khaled. However proper now it’s even a lot worse, as a result of he’s lastly had this robust relationship together with his father, and this was taken from him.

AMY GOODMAN: Sanaa Seif and Laila Soueif, the sister and mom of Egyptian political prisoner Alaa Abd El-Fattah. We’ll come again to them in 20 seconds.


AMY GOODMAN: “Biko’s Kindred Lament” by Metal Pulse. That is Democracy Now!,, The Conflict and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman in Cairo, Egypt, as we return to my interview with Laila Soueif and Sanaa Seif, the mom and sister of the British-Egyptian political prisoner Alaa Abd El-Fattah. I requested Sanaa about Alaa’s most up-to-date trial, when he was sentenced to 5 years in jail final December, and whether or not they had been ever allowed to see the proof introduced in opposition to him.

SANAA SEIF: The attorneys had been by no means allowed to see — entry to the case recordsdata. The attorneys had been by no means allowed to make a case. And the prosecution by no means made the case. The choose simply gave the sentence like that. We solely know two information about this case. We solely have one —

LAILA SOUEIF: [inaudible].

SANAA SEIF: Yeah, we solely know two issues about this case. The one factor — the very first thing we all know is that the one piece of proof is that this Fb publish that he shared a few prisoner dying of torture in Egyptian prisons.

AMY GOODMAN: It was another person’s Fb publish that he shared.

SANAA SEIF: Sure, he shared it. And the Fb publish talked about an officer who tortured a sure prisoner who died. Alaa was arrested and stored below the authority of this identical officer. That is the officer that — not that tortured him himself, however that supervised his torture. His identify is Ahmed Fikri — or, that is the pseudonym, and Walid Al-Dahshan is the actual identify. And this man continues to work in — Alaa now’s transferred from the power the place this man is, however we’ve made a number of complaints in opposition to this man and saying that there’s a vendetta. There may be clearly a vendetta, as a result of it’s within the case recordsdata. It’s not simply because we’re claiming there’s a vendetta and nothing.

The opposite factor we all know is so by coincidence, by luck, a bit of paper that claims when is his launch date. And his launch date is in 2027. Alaa was arrested in 2019. He was sentenced to 5 years. That’s what all of us heard in courtroom. However his launch date is 2027. Why? As a result of they determined that the two-and-a-half years he spent in pretrial detention are to not be counted in. It’s pointless to speak concerning the authorized process if every step of it’s a sham.

AMY GOODMAN: What number of years of the final decade has Alaa been in jail?


AMY GOODMAN: 9 of the final 10 years?

SANAA SEIF: Yeah, 9 of the final 10 years.

AMY GOODMAN: Now with world leaders calling for Alaa’s launch, what provides you hope?

SANAA SEIF: The truth that all of this injustice isn’t taking place in a nook hidden someplace, that lastly there’s a highlight on it. I’m not very, very hopeful, as a result of I’m anxious that COP has ended, the cameras will go away. Additionally, Alaa’s starvation strike is damaged, so meaning the urgency that perhaps the British authorities perhaps have felt, if they’ve felt urgency, might be — will fade a little bit bit. However but, nonetheless, we had — there was a highlight, a worldwide highlight, on this excessive injustice, and that offers me hope, not just for Alaa however for the remainder of the political prisoners and the human rights scenario in Egypt.

AMY GOODMAN: Your estimate of what number of political prisoners there are in Egypt?

SANAA SEIF: The estimate is 65,000, the estimate that the majority of, like, the right human rights organizations have completed. From my expertise, from what I noticed, there is no such thing as a technique to give a correct estimate. Even when the Egyptian authorities themselves needed to have an estimate, they wouldn’t be capable to do — to get a correct estimate, as a result of, particularly my final arrest in 2019, I seen issues have turn out to be actually hectic on the bottom. They’ve misplaced management.

We’ve got a number of companies that arrest. Lots of these have services, jails, that don’t exist on paper. And so, nationwide safety has its personal jails. And these usually are not prisons. These usually are not official prisons. And so, prisoners usually are not admitted. I used to be in an official jail. I used to be in a spot — I knew, like, I’ve a quantity, a code, a file. I’m on file. There’s a paper path behind me, and so I exist. However even within the facility I used to be in, there have been individuals who didn’t exist on paper, officers and inmates. One of many women that had been arrested from Sinai, she had a child. She went into labor in jail, so she didn’t exist on paper, and her her child didn’t exist on paper.

And seeing the size of this insanity, it has escalated, beginning 2019. That’s why I say I can’t imagine any estimate, as a result of we’ll by no means actually know the quantity till the doorways are open. I don’t assume the authorities themselves are able to understanding the quantity. The machine has turn out to be so monstrous and so hectic that it’s exhausting to trace.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. You may have met with who? And the way excessive up did the calls for go? I imply, Biden has come to Egypt, has met with Sisi. We noticed the photographs of them laughing.

SANAA SEIF: In Sharm, I met with Pelosi, with Nancy Pelosi, and with Samantha Energy, who’s the top of USAID. Earlier than that, after I traveled to D.C., I had had conferences with folks from State Division, loads of members of Congress and in Senate. I additionally met with some members of the Senate in Sharm.

I don’t know — I made appeals to President Biden. I don’t know what occurred actually on the bottom. I made appeals, and I do know the appeals reached the president. I do know the appeals reached the White Home. I don’t know what occurred after they met. What I do know is that through the time President Biden was right here in Egypt, that is when Alaa had his near-death expertise. Proper? That was on Friday. That’s what I do know. So, that doesn’t give me loads of hope. In fact, if President Biden has pushed for the case strongly, then Alaa could be out shortly, could be out quickly.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you assume the U.S. has that a lot energy?

SANAA SEIF: Completely. I don’t simply assume; I do know. I do know the U.S. has that a lot energy. We’ve seen. Look, after I traveled to the U.S., loads of these politicians and people — and even, like, aides in Congress workplaces would inform me, “We don’t have that a lot leverage. You don’t perceive.”

There was a vicious marketing campaign in opposition to me being a international spy and espionage. And I used to be being harassed in Sharm el-Sheikh, like even bodily, folks following me and displaying themselves to me that they’re following me.

AMY GOODMAN: You imply these are Egyptians.

SANAA SEIF: Egyptians, OK? The day the American administration appeared, all of those folks simply disappeared as for those who clicked on a button. The state media narrative impulsively modified. They usually began — as a substitute of claiming that “Alaa’s sister is a spy” and that “We’re not going to be compelled by the West,” issues like that, impulsively they began speaking about how Alaa’s sister utilized for a pardon, and “Poor, poor factor. He has a child on the spectrum. That is actually devastating.”

The U.S. doesn’t solely have leverage — leverage is a foul manner of placing it. The U.S. has stakes in that regime, stakes in that oppression, and so has duty. It’s not leverage. Leverage is as for those who’re not a stakeholder on this. You might be a part of this, and you’re a huge a part of this. You ship 1.3 billion of navy support to Egypt yearly. And —

LAILA SOUEIF: You prepare their — you prepare their law enforcement officials. You prepare their military officers. You — they’re so dependent. The entire navy and police equipment is so depending on cooperation with the U.S. So dependent. It’s not simply the cash. I imply, the cash — the cash, come on, is necessary, however cash and greater cash comes from the Gulf and so forth. However this complete operation is a U.S. operation. The helicopters they use to trace folks within the desert, that is U.S. This complete Sisi factor is a U.S. safety operation. However, actually, sure, the U.S. can resolve, in the event that they need to, that they need the regime to do that or not try this, I feel.

SANAA SEIF: It doesn’t make sense that the U.S. — the best way the U.S. engages with Sisi’s regime. It’s in all people’s curiosity that Egypt stays a steady nation, but this regime is making the nation deeply unstable. The way in which the U.S. is — the best way the U.S. is participating its international coverage within the area may be very, very silly. It’s not smart, and it’s not even inside the pursuits of the U.S.

AMY GOODMAN: The identify of Alaa’s e-book of his writings is You Have Not But Been Defeated. Do you assume Alaa has been defeated?

LAILA SOUEIF: It relies on what stage of defeat. And positively, I personally assume that the 2011 revolution and this era have been defeated. On a private stage, Alaa has not been defeated. That’s, once more, the [inaudible]. And after we talked about they’re making an instance of Alaa, that’s — truly, that’s in all probability their primary concern now. You make an instance of somebody, after which it’s a must to launch him with out having damaged him, that may be very, very exhausting.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re asking that Alaa be launched and deported to Britain?

LAILA SOUEIF: Yeah. Both he’s launched and he travels to Britain, or he be deported to Britain. I need him to — I need him protected and in another country.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Laila Soueif and Sanaa Seif, the mom and sister of the political prisoner Alaa Abd El-Fattah. I interviewed them of their household residence right here in Cairo, Egypt, this weekend.

And that does it for the present. Particular because of Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Hany Massoud, Denis Moynihan and Nermeen Shaikh, right here in Cairo, and to Mike Burke, Charina Nadura, Robby Karran and Julie Crosby in New York. Democracy Now! is produced with Renée Feltz, Deena Guzder, Messiah Rhodes, María Taracena, Tami Woronoff, Sam Alcoff, Tey-Marie Astudillo. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks a lot for becoming a member of us.