President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi granted presidential pardons to rights attorney Mohamed El-Baqer and researcher Patrick George Zaki, among others, on 19 July, announced the Presidential Pardon Committee according to Ahram Online.
The news comes just one day after it was announced that Zaki was sentenced to three years in prison under the accusations of spreading false news. News of his arrest sparked a social media outcry, leading Italy’s Prime Minister to assure citizens that the Italian government will find a positive solution to Zaki’s case.
In 2019, Zaki was found guilty of spreading false information in an essay he published, which was seen by authorities as an effort to undermine social and political security.
He was seized and held for 22 months in custody after getting arrested at Cairo International Airport following his return from studying in Italy in February 2020.
On 8 December 2021, Mansoura II State Security Misdemeanours (Emergency) Court released the researcher, but he was unable to travel because the allegations were not dropped.
The release of political prisoners has been on Egypt’s National Dialogue agenda, which have made repeated calls for resolving the issue.
Zaki is an Egyptian activist and human rights researcher at Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, a research university in Bologna, Italy. He studied pharmacy at the German University in Cairo, and also worked as a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
On 29 September 29 2019, El-Baqer was detained while participating in an interview of activist and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah, for whom he was serving as legal counsel at the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) offices in Cairo.
The identities of the other recipients of the presidential pardon have yet to be made public.