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Former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh was arrested on February 14, 2018 following an interview he conducted days prior with Al Jazeera in London. In the interview, Aboul-Fotouh criticized the president’s crackdown on opposition ahead of March elections and called for a boycott of elections with “political candidates being pressured into stepping down and their lives being threatened.” He was later charged with “communicating with a banned group,” and “incitement to topple the government” and added to an official terrorism list.
Although his pre-trial detention has lasted nearly a year, Aboul-Fotouh has not formally been sentenced. A letter issued by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and cosigned by 9 other human rights organizations condemns the inhumane prison conditions of Aboul-Fotouh as a “death sentence” for the 67-year old. Since his imprisonment, his health has rapidly deteriorated, according to reports by his family. As of May 9, 2018, they report that he had suffered four heart attacks while in custody at Tora Prison. The letter notes that, for this period, Aboul-Fotouh had been kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.
Aboul-Fotouh is a well-known figure in Egyptian politics. He is a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood and the founder of the Egypt Strong Party. In the elections following the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, he ran as an independent and won nearly a fifth of the vote in the first round. A profile of Aboul-Fotouh during the election notes that: “Of all the presidential contenders, Mr. Aboul Fotouh has been the most outspoken about full civilian control of the military, the protection of civil liberties and government spending on health care and education.”