Human rights defender detained and tortured
Who is Patrick Zaki George?
Patrick Zaki George is a human rights researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), with his work focusing on gender and sexual minorities. In August 2019, he moved to Italy to do his Masters in Gender and Women's studies at the University of Bologna.
Patrick was arbitrarily arrested by immigration officers at Cairo Airport at 4.30am on 7 February 2019. He was returning from Italy, where he had been doing an Erasmus study programme in Bologna.
Patrick’s arrest warrant was dated 24 September, with his arrest coming within the context of the post-September 2019 protest crackdown, the largest on dissenting voices since 2014. He joins human rights defenders Alaa Abdel Fattah, Mohamed el-Baqer, Mahienour el-Masry, who remain arbitrarily detained.
Patrick’s lawyers told Amnesty that National Security Agency (NSA) officers kept Patrick blindfolded and handcuffed throughout his 17-hour interrogation at the airport. Officers also questioned him about his human rights work during his time in Egypt, as well as the purpose of his residence in Italy.
The day after his interrogation prosecutors ordered that Patrick be held in detention for 15 days, pending an investigation into charges such as, “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 have not yet allowed Patrick or his lawyers to review the posts.
According to his lawyers, a detention report from 8 February 2020 falsely claimed that officers had arrested Patrick from his home, while National Security Agency (NSA) officers had held him incommunicado for roughly 30 hours, exceeding the legal 24-hour limit.
Patrick is currently being held in a police station in al-Mansoura, the city he lives in. Amnesty International considers Patrick to be a prisoner of conscience detained solely for his human rights work and political opinions he has expressed on social media.
Post-September 2019 crackdowns
On 20 September 2019, protests broke out across Egypt, following the release of viral videos, in which former Army contractor, Mohamed Ali accused President al-Sisi and Army leaders of wasting public money to build luxury properties. The protests called for the Egyptian President to resign.
In the weeks that followed, Amnesty International documented instances of the Egyptian security forces carrying out sweeping arrests against peaceful protesters, rounding up journalists, human rights lawyers, activists, lawyers and political figures, in a bid to silence critics and deter further protests from taking place.
According to Egyptian human rights lawyers, at least 4,000 people have been arrested in relation to perceived participation or support in the protests. Authorities have ordered the pre-trial detention of at least 3,715 people, pending investigations of “terrorism” related charges, ultimately creating the single largest protest-related criminal investigation in Egypt’s history.
You can also take action by contacting the Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Human Rights, Ahmed Ihab Gamal-Eldin:
Ahmed Ihab Gamal-Eldin
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Corniche el-Nile, Cairo, Egypt.
Fax: +202 2574 9713
If you wish to take action over social media, please tag President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi @alsisiofficial and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs @mfaegypt in Tweets.
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