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Jailed Egyptian poet attempted suicide in custody: NGO

September 19, 2023

CAIRO: Dissident Egyptian poet Galal al-Behairy has tried to take his own life in prison where he has been held since 2018, freedom of expression group PEN International said on Monday.

“Behairy, an honorary member of English PEN, attempted to commit suicide on 9 September,” the organisation said in a statement. It said it happened “four days after resuming his hunger strike in protest against his prolonged arbitrary detention”.

“We are deeply concerned about his health and well-being and hold the Egyptian authorities fully responsible for his suicide attempt,” PEN said. The group gave no details of how Behairy tried to commit suicide.

Behairy, who is also a songwriter, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 for “insulting the military establishment” after publishing a collection of satirical poetry and writing song lyrics critical of the government. He was to be released in 2021 but the public prosecutor levelled new charges against him of “joining a terrorist group and spreading false news”.