Mr. Patrick George Zaki is a postgraduate student at the University of Bologna, Italy, who is detained in Egypt in apparent retaliation for his peaceful human rights research. Mr. Zaki is pursuing an Erasmus Mundus Master’s Degree in Women and Gender Studies at the University of Bologna and also conducts research and advocacy on gender issues and human rights for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a human rights organization based in Cairo. Read more.
On February 7, 2020, after over five months at the University of Bologna, Mr. Zaki returned to Egypt for a brief family visit. Upon arrival at Cairo International Airport, the Egyptian National Security Agency reportedly arrested Mr. Zaki, interrogated him about his time in Italy and his human rights work, and brought him to an undisclosed location where he was allegedly subjected to torture, including beatings and electric shocks. Twenty-four hours after his initial arrest, Mr. Zaki was brought to a public prosecutor’s office, where he was ordered detained for an additional fifteen days. Authorities have since extended Mr. Zaki’s detention several times, postponed his detention renewal hearing, and transferred him to various detention facilities without notice to his family.
According to EIPR, Egyptian authorities have charged Mr. Zaki with “publishing rumors and false news that aim to disturb social peace and sow chaos,” “incitement to protest without permission from the relevant authorities with the aim of undermining state authority,” “calling for the overthrow of the state,” “managing a social media account that aims to undermine the social order and public safety,” and “incitement to commit violence and terrorist crimes.” Authorities have not publicly disclosed any evidentiary basis for Mr. Zaki’s arrest.