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Public Prosecutor Hamada al-Sawi
Office of the Public Prosecutor
Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax: +202 2577 4716
Ambassador Yasser Reda
Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
3521 International Ct NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 895 5400 I Fax: 202 244 5131
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
On 7 February 2020, immigration officers at Cairo airport arbitrarily arrested human rights researcher Patrick Zaki George at 4:30 am upon his return from Italy where he had been doing an Erasmus study program in Bologna.
His lawyers told Amnesty International that National Security Agency (NSA) officers kept Patrick blindfolded and handcuffed throughout his 17-hour interrogation at the airport. They later moved him to an undisclosed NSA detention facility in al-Mansoura. The NSA officers questioned him about his human rights work during his time in Egypt and the purpose of his residence in Italy. During interrogation, NSA officers beat him on his stomach and back and tortured him with electric shocks on his upper body. The following day, prosecutors in al-Mansoura ordered his detention for 15 days pending investigation on charges including “disseminating false news,” “inciting to protest” and “incitement to violence and terrorist crimes”. Prosecutors said they were relying on ten Facebook posts as evidence but did not allow him or his lawyer to review them.
According to his lawyers, a detention report on 8 February 2020 falsely claimed that officers had arrested Patrick from his home in al-Mansoura, while National Security Agency (NSA) officers had held him incommunicado for roughly 30 hours, exceeding the 24-hour legal limit.
Amnesty International considers that Patrick Zaki is a prisoner of conscience detained solely for his human rights work and political opinions he has expressed on social media.
I ask you to immediately and unconditionally release him and to open an independent investigation into the torture he has suffered and urgently ensure his protection. I call on you to also ensure that, pending his release, he is granted access to his lawyers, family and medical care; and that he is protected from torture and other ill-treatment. I finally urge the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those detained solely for defending human rights and for peacefully expressing their opinions.