According to a statement released by Egypt’s Initiative for Personal Rights, Egyptian student and activist Patrick George Zaki is set to remain in detention for having ‘spread false news’ on the country.
The Mansoura II Misdemeanours Appeals Court rejected Zaki’s appeal; he is due to stand before the prosecution on February 22.
News of Zaki’s continued detention was followed by European Parliament President David Sassoli’s call for the activist’s release on Sunday, at a press conference on Multinannual Financial Framework in Strasbourg.
“I want to remind the Egyptian authorities that EU relations with third countries rely on respect for human and civil rights, as confirmed by many resolutions approved by the European Parliament,” he stated.
“I therefore call for the immediate release of Patrick Zaky and for his safe return to his family and his studies.”
He is currently detained for accusations of spreading rumors as well as false news and “inciting against state institutions and symbols” as per Al Ahram.
Zaki, who is a student at Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, was detained upon arrival at Cairo International Airport earlier this month.
The arrest sparked outrage among activists and social media users, with a petition launched on Change.org calling for his release.
Amnesty Italia released a statement expressing concern about his situation. The Italian foreign ministry said that Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio had asked the European Union to set up monitoring of Zaky’s case.
In the meanwhile, his arrest has trended on social media with activists sharing his photo and arrest story in solidarity.
WHO IS PATRICK ZAKI?
With a keen interest in justice and equality, Zaki’s is known to have defended the rights of women and minorities, such as Christians and the LGBTQ+ community. He also focuses on fighting for the human rights of the detained.
In August 2017, he became involved in the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights as a gender and human rights researcher, where he documented and created vocal campaigns on political violations and offered direct assistance to those whose rights have been violated.
In August 2019, he moved to Bologna, Italy to pursue higher education in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Bologna.
Patrick is also known to have been relentlessly vocal about the case of the Italian researcher Giulio Regeni, who was found murdered in Cairo.
According to his friends, Zaki was questioned in the airport’s State Security Office for 20 hours. He traveled back to Egypt to merely spend his semester vacation with his friends and family back home. No knowledge of his whereabouts were known to his family or friends at the time.
The next morning, he appeared at a Public Prosecutor’s office in Mansoura with his lawyer, where the police issued a report that his arrest is based on an arrest warrant for charges in 2019.
Later that afternoon, he was investigated and charged with publishing rumors and false news, incitement to protest, calling for overthrow of the state, managing a social media account that undermines social order and incitement to terrorist crimes.
On the same day, Zakiwas moved to the police station to hear the prosecutor’s decision. The prosecutor decided to keep him in pre-trial detention for 15 days for further investigations.
The Ministry of Interior was quick to clarify Patrick’s citizenship status, likely to avoid any comparisons to Regeni, who disappeared before being found murdered.
Regeni’s murder remains unsolved, with authorities refuting any involvement in his death. His parents, Paola and Claudia Regeni have called for the release of Patrick, highlighting circumstances of arrest similar to those of their son in a statement shared by their lawyer.
“Patrick, like Giulio, is a brilliant international student and holds dear people’s inviolable rights,” the Regenis stated as per the Guardian.
Zaki’s friends have issued three demands, calling for the immediate release of Patrick and for a clear and transparent investigation regarding his abduction.