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.
After 19 months in pretrial detention, on September 13, 2021, the State Security Supreme Prosecution (SSSP) indicted Mr. Zaki with a charge of “spreading false news inside and outside of the country,” based on an article Mr. Zaki wrote about his experiences as a Coptic Egyptian. The article titled “Displacement, Killing, and Restriction: A week’s diaries of Egypt’s Copts,” was published in Daraj in July 2019. On September 14, Mr. Zaki was brought before the Mansoura II State Security Emergency Court for the first trial session of his case. Rulings given by the emergency court are not subject to appeal. At the September 14 hearing, Mr. Zaki’s trial was postponed to September 28. On September 28, Mr. Zaki’s lawyer asked for a postponement in order to study a certified copy of the documents presented by the Prosecution, which had not previously been provided to her. The court adjourned the trial to December 7. If convicted, Mr. Zaki faces up to five years in prison.