On March 3, 2020, Endangered Scholars Worldwide learned that the detained University of Bologna researcher and student Patrick George Zaki, who was allegedly tortured and mistreated by Egyptian authorities, will again appear in court after his appeal was rejected by the Mansoura II Misdemeanors Appeals Court.
The 27-year-old, who had been on leave from Egypt since last August to pursue studies in Italy, was arrested on February 7, 2020 after landing in Cairo's international airport for a family visit.
Zaki’s arrest has alarmed many in Italy where the researcher is pursuing a Master’s degree in gender and women’s studies at the University of Bologna, amid fears of a repeat of the case of murdered Italian doctoral student Giulio Regeni. Regeni’s body was found on a roadside on the outskirts of Cairo in 2016 showing extensive signs of torture.
Zaki, who was allegedly involved with social activism many years ago, was arrested as part of Egypt’s ongoing crackdown on dissent. He was accused of calling for protests against the government and for the “spread fake news.”
Zaki’s lawyers requested his release on the grounds of procedural irregularities and lack of evidence. Zaki has a verified address and would be unable to tamper with case evidence, if there was any. His lawyers have also said he was beaten, subjected to electric shocks, threatened, and questioned about his work and activism before he appeared at a public prosecutor’s office in his hometown of Mansoura on Saturday, a day after his detention in the Egyptian capital.
Rights activists say Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has overseen an unprecedented crackdown on freedom—including banning all unauthorized demonstrations—since first taking power in 2013 and winning the election in 2014. Recent laws in Egypt have expanded the definition of “terrorism” to include all political dissent, granting prosecutors broad power to keep people detained for months and even years without ever filing charges or presenting evidence.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide considers the detention of Patrick George Zaki a flagrant and unjust violation of the freedom, security, and safety of scholars and students in Egypt. We deplore and condemn Zaki’s ongoing detention and persecution. We call upon all international organizations, academic and professional associations, and other groups and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights to protest and condemn this arbitrary incarceration; to call for Zaki’s immediate and unconditional release; and to urge the officials of the Egyptian government to respect, guarantee, and implement the provisions and principles of human rights.