The undersigned organisations condemn the decision of the State Security Supreme Prosecution (SSSP) to indict Patrick Zaki, the researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), on charges of “spreading false news inside and outsid
Campaigns: Free Patrick
On February 7, EIPR Gender and Human Rights Researcher Patrick George Zaki, was stopped at Cairo airport on his return home from abroad. Patrick, who has been on leave since August 2019 to study for a postgraduate degree in Bologna, Italy, was returning for a brief family visit when he was taken into the custody of Egypt’s National Security Investigations at the airport and disappeared for the following 24 hours.
Patrick was removed briefly from the airport and sent to an NSI facility somewhere in Cairo for further interrogation, before being transferred to NSI offices in his hometown, Mansoura, about 120 kilometers northeast of Cairo. During these 24 hours, according to his lawyers who met with him today at the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Mansoura; he was beaten, subjected to electric shocks, threatened, and questioned about various issues related to his work and activism.
On the morning of Saturday, February 8, Patrick appeared before a Public Prosecutor in Mansoura, where prosecutors started questioning him at a late hour in the afternoon. According to his lawyers, he has been presented with a police report which falsely claims that he was arrested at a checkpoint in his hometown, pursuant to an outstanding warrant issued in September 2019. Patrick had left the country in August 2019 to begin his studies, and this is his first return since that date. So far in the course of the questioning, prosecutors presented a list of charges against Patrick that include: publishing rumours and false news that aim to disturb social peace and sow chaos; incitement to protest without permission from the relevant authorities with the aim of undermining state authority; calling for the overthrow of the state; managing a social media account that aims to undermine the social order and public safety; incitement to commit violence and terrorist crimes. The Prosecution decision was detention on remand for 15 days pending further investigation.
EIPR demands the immediate release of Patrick George Zaki and an end to continued harassment and arbitrary detention of human rights professionals, members of civil society groups and journalists. Since October 2019, six EIPR staff members have been temporarily detained and questioned, including for a period of two days in one case, as part of arbitrary and entirely illegal stop and search operations that apparently target individuals perceived to be politically active in anyway.
The motion follows a petition launched on the anniversary of Patrick’s arrest this year and signed by more than 200,000 Italian citizens calling on the Italian government to grant Patrick Italian citizenship. Since Zaki’s arrest in February 2020, more than 50 Italian cities and counties have granted him their honorary citizenship in appreciation for his work defending human rights and highlighting his unjust imprisonment, with the campaign titled “100 Cities for Patrick”.
Today, February 7th, marks a year since Patrick Zaki - the researcher at EIPR and Master’s student at the University of Bologna- was arrested from Cairo Airport. Since then, he has been on remand detention. Last week, the Third Felonies circuit ordered the renewal of his detention for 45 additional days. In the face of this incomprehensible intransigence EIPR can’t but repeat its demand for the immediate and unconditional release of Patrick Zaki due to the absence of justifications for remand detention and demand the dropping of all charges against him.
South Cairo Criminal court issued yesterday its decision on Patrick’s hearing session, renewing his remand detention for an additional 45 day pending the investigation in the case 7245/2019. The hearing was held yesterday in Patrick’s presence and the presence of his lawyers from EIPR. Patrick has already spent more than 9 months in remand detention.
Once again the prison administration failed to transfer Patrick Zaki citing a force majeure event. Patrick was scheduled for a detention renewal session on Sunday June 28 that was meant to take place for the first time before a Criminal Court panel from a counter-terrorism circuit, which sits at the Tora Subofficers Training Institute. But once again we saw a repeat of what has become the norm over the last three months, following the April 28 decision by the head of the Cairo Appellate Court to resume detention renewal sessions without the presence of defendants in criminal cases
We want to take this chance to reaffirm that there are many more people in remand and pre-trial detention that the Prosecution should release for their own protection as well as the protection of the whole society, consistent with the other measures taken in response to the Covid19 crisis.
EIPR’s lawyers were able to obtain a confirmation today, 9 March 2020 from Supreme State Security Investigations (SSSP) that Patrick’s next renewal hearing is scheduled for Saturday 21 March.
Until the time of the writing the SSSP has yet to issue its decision on Patrick’s detention, although the prosecutor today has issued permission for Patrick’s family to visit him tomorrow in his new detention place in Tora, Cairo.Patrick Zaki stood before Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) in the Fifth Settlement, Cairo for his second scheduled hearing looking into the state of his detention pending investigation in Mansoura II Administrative Case 7245/2019 registered under Supreme State Security Investigations no. 1766/2019 .
His family were attempting to visit him today, 5 March 2020, on the first regular visit scheduled for pre-trial detainees; only to find that he was once again moved to Tora in Cairo. We have not been able to establish yet which of the various detention facilities within the Tora Prison Complex he will be held in, since he was only moved this morning.
EIPR asks the Public Prosecutor to release Patrick George Zaki immediately, and the investigative authorities to close the investigation and dismiss the case, for we do not see any basis for criminal prosecution.