“The authorities’ arbitrary arrest and torture of Patrick Zaki is yet another example of the state’s deep-rooted repression of perceived opponents and human rights’ defenders,” responding to the arbitrary arrest of Egyptian researcher Patrick Zaki, who is currently doing postgraduate studies on gender in Italy and was detained on arrival at Cairo airport last Friday on charges including “disseminating false news” and “inciting to protest”, Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said.
Patrick Zaki is a researcher specializing in gender at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and a postgraduate student in Italy. According to his lawyer, Samuel Tharwat, National Security Agency (NSA) officers kept him blindfolded and handcuffed throughout his 17 hours’ interrogation at the airport and then at an undisclosed NSA location in Mansoura, during which they questioned him about his human rights work and the purpose of his residence in Italy. During interrogation, he was frequently threatened, beaten on his stomach and back and tortured with electric shocks.
On 8 February, prosecutors ordered his detention for 15 days pending investigations.
“The authorities’ arbitrary arrest and torture of Patrick Zaki is yet another example of the state’s deep-rooted repression of perceived opponents and human rights defenders, which reaches more audacious levels with each passing day,” Philip Luther added.
“We call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Patrick, who is detained solely for his human rights work and opinions he has expressed on social media. They must open an independent investigation into the torture he has suffered and urgently ensure his protection,” he said in a statement.
“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,” the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) also said in a statement published on its website.