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Prominent activist imprisoned in Egypt starts hunger strike to protest his prosecution


CAIRO — A prominent activist in Egypt began a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment after being convicted on charges of violating the country's widely criticized protest law, according to a statement Tuesday from his family.

Alaa Abdel-Fattah was a major force in the 2011 revolt that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

An outspoken blogger, Abdel-Fattah has been in and out of prison in the three years since Mubarak's ouster. He campaigned against military trials for civilians during the 17 months that generals held power following Mubarak's resignation. Abdel-Fattah opposed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi as well, but strongly disapproved of the military's return to politics in the wake of Morsi's ouster.

His sister is detained over similar charges.

In a statement Tuesday, the activist was quoted as saying: "I will no longer play the role they have written for me." It said that he started his hunger strike on Monday night. The family said it held authorities responsible for Abdel-Fattah's safety.

His hunger strike comes a day after he visited his unconscious father, a longtime rights lawyer, in hospital after undergoing surgery.

"The scene of his unconscious father ... was a turning point for Alaa and at the end of the visit he decided he will not cooperate with this ... unjust situation even if the price is his life," the statement read.

Abdel-Fattah won an appeal and retrial after he was sentenced to 15-year in prison for inciting and participating in a demonstration last year.

The June sentence was the toughest against any of the secular activists behind the 18-day uprising that ended Mubarak's 29-year reign. It is also the first conviction of a prominent activist since former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi took office as president.

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