The family of prominent Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Gehad al-Haddad say they haven’t been allowed to visit him or receive any information about him since he was taken to Tora Prison Hospital on Sunday.
Haddad collapsed on Sunday as a result of “malnutrition and deprivation of basic needs,” according to a post on Twitter by his brother Abdullah Haddad. Since then, “the family [has been] given no information or visitation rights to see if [he is] alive or dead,” Abdullah added.
Haddad’s wife Basma Abu Zeid told Mada Masr that she tried to visit him in hospital but was informed that a permit is required from the prosecution to visit inmates in maximum security facilities. She added that authorities also refused to allow in food or medication.
“I have no information whatsoever,” she said, “I don’t even know why he was transferred to the hospital, I only find things out from Facebook.”
Abu Zeid said she last visited her husband on Saturday, when he told her he had been transferred to Manial Hospital and then back to prison. He said he had been feeling faint and collapsing and that prison authorities didn’t do anything about it. “So I don’t know what has happened that pushed them to move him to the hospital,” she added.
Abu Zeid explained to Mada Masr that visits were halted before Ramadan for a few months and that when she finally got to see Haddad, he told her prisoners had been subjected to a starvation campaign. Several prisoners had been losing weight and collapsing, according to Haddad.
In a post on Facebook, Haddad’s mother Mona Imam said he looked pale and weak when she last visited her son on October 3. He told her that he had collapsed the day before in his solitary cell.
Imam explained that Haddad suffers from anemia and that prison authorities have repeatedly refused to allow him to take iron supplements. She added that Haddad has lost 35 kilograms over the last four months due to a “starvation policy and deprivation of food” in Al-Aqrab Prison since Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar took office.
Haddad was arrested in September 2013 from a Nasr City apartment. He had become the most recognized face of the Muslim Brotherhood in foreign media during the period following former President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster. He is the son of Essam al-Haddad, one of Morsi’s foreign affairs advisers.
Haddad’s family said they hold the Interior Ministry and prison authorities responsible for his health and wellbeing.
“We demand once again Gehad’s release and that of all political prisoners being subjected to a slow death policy in Egypt,” his brother wrote.
The families of detainees and their lawyers have been increasingly complaining of intentional medical neglect by authorities, especially after the death of five detainees in the last few months in Al-Aqrab (the Scorpion) Prison, which is part of Cairo’s Tora Prison complex.
Last May, leading Muslim Brotherhood figure and former parliamentarian Farid Ismail died in prison after slipping into a hepatic coma for several days. Ismail’s family and the Muslim Brotherhood accused prison authorities of negligence and allowing the health of the deceased leader to deteriorate without proper medical care.
Later the same month, former Muslim Brotherhood MP Mohamed al-Falahgy died in prison, after authorities withheld critically needed health care, according to the banned Islamist group.
In August, Jamaa al-Islamiya leader Essam Derbala also died in prison, with the Brotherhood saying he was denied medical care and was “murdered” as a result of systemic negligence.
Yet, the National Council for Human Rights visited the notorious maximum-security Al-Aqrab Prison to investigate accusations of abuse, and claimed that such reports were exaggerated and that all the inmates have been treated well.