The Observatory has received new information about the release and ongoing judicial harassment of Mr. Patrick George Zaki, a postgraduate student at Bologna University (Italy) and a Gender and Human Rights researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).
On December 7, 2021, the Mansoura II State Security Misdemeanours (Emergency) Court ordered the release of Patrick George Zaki pending trial after 22 months of arbitrary detention in Tora prison in Cairo. The Court adjourned his case to February 1, 2022. Mr. Zaki was effectively released from Mansoura police station in Cairo on December 8, 2021.
The Observatory recalls that on September 13, 2021, Patrick George Zaki was indicted by the State Security Supreme Prosecution (SSSP) on charges of “spreading false news inside and outside of the country” based on Articles 80 (D), and 102 (bis) of the Penal Code. If found guilty, he could face up to five years in jail.
The charges are based on an article Patrick George Zaki published on the independent digital media Daraj, in July 2019. His article, “Displacement, Killing and Restriction: A Week’s Diaries of Egypt’s Copts” presents his reaction, as a Christian Egyptian citizen, to current events regarding the Coptic community in the country.
Patrick George Zaki’s trial opened on September 14, 2021 before the Mansoura II State Security Misdemeanors (Emergency) Court, whose rulings are not subject to appeal. The hearing was adjourned a first time to September 28, 2021 and then postponed to December 7, 2021 after Mr. Zaki’s lawyer requested a delay in order to review the case files, as it was the first time he was allowed to get an official copy of the files.
The Observatory further recalls that Patrick George Zaki was arrested on February 7, 2020, at Cairo airport upon his arrival from Italy. He was subsequently taken into the custody of Egypt’s National Security Investigations (NSI) at the airport and then held incommunicado for the following 24 hours. He was beaten, subjected to electric shocks and threatened during this time.
The Observatory underlines that the criminalisation and arbitrary detention of Patrick George Zaki came amid a renewed crackdown on human rights defenders, activists, journalists and civil society in Egypt, that arose with the outbreak of the demonstrations across the country on September 20, 2019, protesting against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The Observatory welcomes the release of Patrick George Zaki but recalls that he should never have been detained in the first place, his detention being arbitrary as it only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory condemns the ongoing judicial harassment of Patrick George Zaki and urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against him. The Observatory further calls on the Egyptian authorities to put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him and all the human rights defenders in Egypt.
How You Can Help
Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:
i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Patrick George Zaki as well as of all human rights defenders in Egypt;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Patrick George Zaki and put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him as well as against all human rights defenders in Egypt, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;
iii. Carry out an independent, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned acts of torture and ill-treatment against Patrick George Zaki in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law.
· President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial
· Prime Minister, Mr. Mustafa Kemal Madbouly Mohamed. Email: email@example.com
· Minister of the Interior, Mr. Mahmoud Tawfik, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Head of the Egyptian Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, Mr. Tarek Radwan, Email: email@example.com
· Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National Council for Human Rights, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· H.E. Mr. Ahmed Ihab Abdelahad Gamaleldin, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: email@example.com
· Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, Belgium, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Egypt in your respective country.