Researcher Patrick Zaki to remain in custody over broadcasting false news: Egypt's general prosecution

Ahram Online , El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Sunday 16 Feb 2020

The prosecution said Zaki used social media to "disturb public order and jeopardise society's peace and security"

Patrick Zaki
Patrick Zaki (courtesy of social media)

Egypt's general prosecutor has said an Egyptian researcher arrested earlier this month will remain in custody over "broadcasting false news" and "disturbing security and social peace," a statement from the prosecutor's office read.

Patrick George Zaki, a postgraduate student at Bologna University in Italy, is a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a prominent rights organisation. Zaki was detained at Cairo International Airport 7 February after he arrived for a family visit, the organisation said at the time.

The prosecution said Zaki used his Facebook account to "spread false news … with the aim of fuelling rumours and inciting against state institutions and symbols."

It also provided a detailed account of his arrest, refuting reports of torture while he was in custody.

Zaki did not tell prosecutors he had been subject to any harm or abuse during his arrest or detention, the general prosecution statement said, adding that no apparent injuries were seen on his body.

According to the statement, prosecutors questioned Zaki 8 February following his arrest in his home city of Mansoura in the Nile Delta. However, Zaki said he was arrested from the airport 7 February, pleading not guilty to all accusations.

This is not the first time Zaki has been investigated, the prosecution said, adding that prosecutors in September issued an arrest warrant and ordered the search of his home.

Zaki was abroad. However, his residence was searched by state security forces, which later presented to the prosecution printed documents of posts from his Facebook account inciting against state institutions and figures, the statement added.

On Saturday, a Mansoura appeals court rejected an appeal filed by Zaki and upheld the persecution's decision that he be remanded in custody for 15 days, according to EIPR.

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