The Emergency State Security Misdemeanors Court in Mansoura sentenced Egyptian rights researcher Patrick George Zaki to three years in prison under the accusations of spreading false news, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).
“We condemn the verdict issued today against researcher and academic Patrick George Zaki, sentencing him to three years in prison for his writings that shed light on the hardship and discrimination experienced by Coptic Christians in Egypt,” reads EIPR’s statement.
Zaki was tried under emergency law, which does not allow for appeals before any high courts.
According to EIPR, Zaki was convicted of disseminating false information in an article he wrote that was considered by authorities an attempt to disrupt social peace and security in 2019. In February 2020, he was detained and spent 22 months in custody after being arrested at Cairo International Airport upon his return from studying in Italy.
Prior to his detainment, Zaki was a postgraduate student at Bologna University in Italy, completing a master’s degree in Gender and Women’s Studies. Zaki was also a researcher at EIPR.
“It is terrible news that comes unexpectedly, as we still have in our memory the image of Patrick getting his degree with honors,” Giovanni Molari, the rector of the University of Bologna, revealed to the Italian newswire ANSA.
The researcher was later released by Mansoura II State Security Misdemeanours (Emergency) Court on 8 December 2021 but prevented from travel due to charges not being dropped.
Zaki’s imprisonment has sparked outrage from Italy and human rights activists in Egypt. Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni assured citizens that the government remains confident of finding a positive solution to Zaki’s case.
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