Egypt’s interior minister said on Wednesday there is no official objection to heeding requests for a medical pardon for 21-year-old prisoner Ahmed El-Khatib or his transfer to a private hospital due to poor health.
The requests, originating from El-Khatib's family, follow his diagnosis with the rare disease visceral leishmaniasis, the interior ministry said in a statement.
In the past few weeks, several campaigns and prominent figures in Egypt have called for a pardon for El-Khatib, who is currently receiving treatment in Cairo's Abbasiya Fever Hospital, allowing him to receive proper medical care in a private hospital in Egypt or abroad.
El-Khatib was arrested in 2014 on his return from a visit to Turkey and was sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in prison for "belonging to a terrorist group and disrupting public order". Prosecutors stated that he had gone to Turkey to join an insurgent group active in Syria.
George Isaac, a member of the National Council for Human Rights, previously told Ahram Online that El-Khatib contracted the disease in prison.
However, the interior ministry statement said the illness was transmitted by an insect that is not found in Egypt but is present in Syria and Iraq.
"Thorough medical investigations were carried out on the prisoners who interacted with El-Khatib, and they were all free from the parasite," the statement added.
"A process of disinfection and sterilization was conducted in the prisoner’s cell to ensure no other prisoner is infected."