The Interior Ministry announced its willingness to transfer detainee Ahmed al-Khateeb to a private hospital for medical treatment after he was diagnosed with the rare visceral leishmaniasis infection.
The ministry released a statement to this effect on Monday, after a preventative team conducted medical screenings in Monufiya governorate, including anyone who had any contact with Khateeb.
He was transferred to Abbaseya Hospital last week, seven months after his condition deteriorated as a result of the infection, which is contracted through sand fly bites.
Khateeb’s family submitted complaints to the National Council for Human Rights and the Interior Ministry’s human rights division regarding his care in prison. They suggested sending a specialist medical team to Abasseya Hospital to treat him, his sister Fatma told Mada Masr, adding that the ministry did not contact the family regarding his transfer to a private hospital.
Former official at the preventative medicine division Saeed Hussien told Mada Masr that the incubation period for leishmaniasis is less than a year, suggesting he was infected in prison, as he has been detained since 2014.
According to the ministry, however, Khateeb traveled to join the Islamic State in Syria prior to his arrest in Egypt, where he is serving a 10-year sentence along with a LE100,000 fine for joining a terrorist organization. Khateeb was arrested from his family home in 2014 after he returned to Egypt from Turkey. He was forcibly disappeared for a week before formally facing accusations of joining a terrorist organization outside Egypt.
The ministry said leishmaniasis is not prevalent in Egypt, but is widespread in Syria and Iraq. Visceral leishmaniasis is a rare infection, but it can be fatal if left untreated. According to the WHO, 2,000-400,000 people are diagnosed globally with it every year.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and Al-Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence raised their concerns over the deterioration of Khateeb’s health, recommending he be released on these grounds, as this does not mean he is pardoned, but rather that his sentence is delayed.