The family of seriously ill prisoner Ahmed El-Khatib says it is still awaiting a response to their requests for a medical pardon one day after the interior ministry said there were no official objections to the prisoner being pardoned or moved to a private hospital.
The twenty-one-year-old prisoner has been diagnosed with the rare and potentially fatal disease visceral leishmaniasis since starting his 10-year prison sentence in 2016.
“We confirm that until now, we don’t know any details on Ahmed’s medical condition or the treatment he is receiving, as we haven’t been allowed to visit him since 25 March 2017,” El-Kattib’s family said in a statement on Thursday.
The family has been requesting a medical pardon for the prisoner and his treatment at a private hospital, as well as permission to visit him at Abbasiya Fever Hospital, where he is currently receiving treatment.
Over the past few weeks, several campaigns and prominent figures in Egypt have called for a pardon for El-Khatib, allowing him to receive proper medical care in a private hospital in Egypt or abroad.
He 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 said in its Wednesday statement that the illness was transmitted by an insect that is not found in Egypt but is present in Syria and Iraq.
The interior ministry statement also said that thorough medical investigations have been conducted on prisoners who have interacted with El-Khatib, and they were all found to be free of the parasite. It added that a process of disinfection and sterilization was conducted in the prisoner’s cell to ensure no other prisoner is infected.