Urgent Action Update: TORTURED DEFENDER TRIED BY SPECIAL COURT (Egypt: UA 16.20)

October 27, 2021

Human rights defender Patrick George Zaki was referred to trial by the Emergency State Security Court on charges of spreading “false news”, based on an article he wrote describing the discrimination faced by Coptic Christians in Egypt. If convicted, he faces up to five years’ imprisonment. Patrick George Zaki is a prisoner of conscience who must be immediately and unconditionally released as he is held solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

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TAKE ACTION:

  1. Please take action as-soon-as possible. This Urgent Action expires on December 22, 2021.
  2. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
  3. Click here to let us know the actions you took on Urgent Action 16.20. It’s important to report because we share the total number with the officials we are trying to persuade and the people we are trying to help.

CONTACT INFORMATION

President Abdelfattah al-Sisi
Office of the President, Al Ittihadia Palace
Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax: +202 2391 1441
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial
Ambassador Motaz Zahran
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] , [email protected]
Twitter: @EgyptEmbassyUSA , @MotazZahran
Facebook: @EgyptEmbassyUSA
Salutation: Dear Ambassador


SAMPLE LETTER

Your Excellency,

On September 28, 2021, human rights defender and master’s student Patrick George Zaki was referred to trial in front of the Emergency State Security Court (ESSC) on the charge of “spreading false news at home and abroad” in connection to an article published in 2019, containing exurbs from his personal diary about the discrimination faced by Coptic Christians in Egypt. He already spent 20 months in unjust pretrial detention pending investigations into charges of “disseminating false news”, “incitement to protest” and “incitement to violence and terrorist crimes” in a separate case. Proceedings by the ESSCs, which are special courts activated when there is a state of emergency, are inherently unfair, and their verdicts are not subject to appeal. His trial was adjourned to December 7, 2021, following requests by his lawyer to obtain a copy of his casefile.

Patrick George Zaki’s friends and supporters were able to see him during the September 28, 2021, court hearing and reported that he appeared angry and distraught by his unjust detention. Even though he suffers from asthma, he has not been vaccinated against Covid-19. His lawyers’ complaint to the administrative court against the failure of the authorities to vaccinate him was pending at the time of writing. He is also suffering from back pain due to his detention conditions and is forced to sleep on rough blankets on the floor as prison authorities deny him a bed or mattress.

Patrick George Zaki has been detained in Tora Investigation Prison since his arbitrary arrest at Cairo airport in February 2020 upon his return from Italy where he was studying. According to his lawyers, following his arrest, National Security Agency (NSA) officers subjected him to torture and other ill-treatment, including though the administration of electric shocks and beatings during interrogations which revolved around his human rights work. Amnesty International considers Patrick George Zaki to be a prisoner of conscience held solely for the peaceful exercise of his human rights.

I therefore ask you to ensure that Patrick George Zaki is released immediately and unconditionally and that all charges against him are dropped, as they stem solely from his exercise of his human rights. I also urge you to open an independent investigation into his torture allegations, with a view to bringing those responsible to justice. Pending his release, I urge you to ensure that he is provided with adequate access to healthcare, including to Covid-19 vaccines, and held in conditions meeting international standards on the treatment of prisoners.

Sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES