Gender & Rights Researcher Patrick George Zaki, arrested on arrival at Cairo airport, tortured and sent to Public Prosecution after 24 hours of incommunicado detention according to EIPR
Early on the morning of Friday, February 7, EIPR Gender and Human Rights Researcher Patrick George Zaki was stopped at Cairo airport on his return home from abroad. Patrick, who has been on leave since August 2019 to study for a postgraduate degree in Bologna, Italy, was returning for a brief family visit when he was taken into the custody of Egypt’s National Security Investigations at the airport and disappeared for the following 24 hours.
Patrick was removed briefly from the airport and sent to an NSI facility somewhere in Cairo for further interrogation, before being transferred to NSI offices in his hometown, Mansoura, about 120 kilometers northeast of Cairo. During these 24 hours, according to his lawyers who met with him today at the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Mansoura; he was beaten, subjected to electric shocks, threatened, and questioned about various issues related to his work and activism.
On the morning of Saturday, February 8, Patrick appeared before a Public Prosecutor in Mansoura, where prosecutors started questioning him at a late hour in the afternoon. According to his lawyers, he has been presented with a police report which falsely claims that he was arrested at a checkpoint in his hometown, pursuant to an outstanding warrant issued in September 2019.
Patrick had left the country in August 2019 to begin his studies, and this is his first return since that date. So far in the course of the questioning, prosecutors presented a list of charges against Patrick that include: 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; incitement to commit violence and terrorist crimes.
EIPR demands the immediate release of Patrick George Zaki and an end to continued harassment and arbitrary detention of human rights professionals, members of civil society groups and journalists. Since October 2019, six EIPR staff members have been temporarily detained and questioned, including for a period of two days in one case, as part of an arbitrary and entirely illegal stop and search operations that apparently target individuals perceived to be politically active in any way.
In 2018, the researcher, questioned by the agency Dire, spoke very harshly about the conditions of life in Egypt. Patrick had always taken the side of those who peacefully defend human rights, and had shown solidarity for Giulio. First of all, we want to express our utmost solidarity with Patrick and those close to him: as a community of researchers, we are close to him and we want him to know that we are at his side.
ADI – Association of Ph.D. students and Ph.D. researchers in Italy has been at the forefront in the battle of civilization in search of truth and justice for Giulio Regeni for years. We believe that, in order for such events not to happen again, it is essential that we all have the commitment and courage to denounce them. That’s why we will make sure that everyone does their part to shed light on this umpteenth abuse perpetrated by the Egyptian police.
Students of the GEMMA Master in Bologna, Alessandra Ballerini – Lawyer of the Regeni family, ADI – Association of Ph.D. students and Ph.D. researchers in Italy and LINK University Coordination says:
We join our voice with that of the Regeni family is asking the Government to include Egypt in the list of unsafe countries and to summon Egypt’s Italian Ambassador back to Italy for consultations. With this case, Egypt once again shows the ruthlessness of its dictatorship. This is the umpteenth slap that our country receives from an inhumane regime and represents a further demonstration that Egypt has no intention of collaborating with Italy to finally shed light on the tragic end of Giulio Regeni. On the contrary, it is ruthless against anyone who sympathizes or approaches the story of Giulio Regeni.