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Egypt court orders release of researcher Patrick Zaki: family

AFP News Agency

07th Dec, 2021. 05:49 pm
Patrick Zaki

CAIRO: An Egyptian court Tuesday ordered the release of researcher Patrick Zaki who was detained in February last year when he arrived in Cairo from Italy, his family told AFP.

“I’m jumping for joy!” his mother Hala Sobhi said. “We’re now on our way to the police station in Mansoura,” a city in Egypt’s Delta, where Zaki hails from.

Zaki still faces charges of “spreading false news”, “harming national security” and “incitement to overthrow the state”, among others.

His trial has been postponed to February, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a local NGO with which he worked.

In September, Zaki was referred to trial in front of an exceptional state security court for an article containing excerpts from his personal diary recounting the discrimination faced by the country’s Coptic Christian minority.

Amnesty International previously said that Zaki had allegedly been tortured while being interrogated by national security officers, including using electric shocks and beating.

The detention of the gender rights researcher sparked widespread condemnation, particularly in Italy where Zaki had been studying and which recently held a trial in absentia over the killing of Italian PhD candidate Giulio Regeni in Egypt in 2016.

Regeni’s dead body was found bearing signs of torture, several days after he went missing on the fifth anniversary of the January 25 uprising. An Italian parliamentary commission report recently blamed his torture and death on Egypt’s state security apparatus.

Thousands in Italy had signed petitions calling for Zaki’s release, and the country’s senate in April voted to grant him Italian citizenship, allowing him to receive consular support.

Egypt’s academic freedoms have been severely restricted since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took office in 2014. Several researchers have been jailed in recent years, such as Ahmed Samir, a postgraduate student at the Central European University in Vienna, and Kholoud Amer, head of the translation unit at the Library of Alexandria.

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