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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Pardoned Egypt activist says he plans to journey to Italy, proceed human rights work

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CAIRO — A high-profile Egyptian activist who was launched from jail this week stated Friday he plans to journey to Italy, the place his case garnered vital consideration. He stated he’ll proceed to work within the area of human rights and reside between the 2 nations.

In an interview with The Related Press, Patrick George Zaki, who acquired a presidential pardon on Wednesday, stated he hopes that different outstanding jailed dissidents can be let go quickly, together with probably the most well-known, Alaa Abdel Fattah.

“We hope that within the coming interval there will probably be a presidential pardon for all prisoners of opinion,” Zaki stated.

Egypt, which has carried out a relentless crackdown on dissent for almost a decade, has additionally pardoned dozens of detainees prior to now yr. President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who has overseen the crackdown, has beforehand denied that his nation has political prisoners, and justified authorities measures by saying they’re wanted to battle the unfold of terrorism.

The discharge of Zaki, whose case was championed by Italy’s authorities, marks the top of a three-year ordeal.

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Zaki, who’s Christian, was arrested in February 2020 shortly after touchdown in Cairo for a brief journey residence from Italy the place he was learning on the College of Bologna. He was accused of “disseminating false information” following an opinion article he wrote in 2019 on alleged discrimination in opposition to the Coptic Christian minority within the nation.

He was launched in December 2021 after spending 22 months in pretrial detention however needed to stay in Egypt and was not allowed to journey overseas, pending trial. Zaki earned a grasp’s diploma with distinction earlier this month with out with the ability to go to Italy as a result of he was barred from journey. He defended his thesis by videoconference.

Days earlier than he was pardoned, an Egyptian court docket convicted him of the cost of “disseminating false information” and sentenced him to 3 years in jail.

Zaki’s case has echoed in Italy, reminding lots of the tragic destiny of Italian scholar Giulio Regeni who was kidnapped and killed in Cairo in 2016. The Italian authorities had repeatedly referred to as for Zaki’s launch since his arrest in 2020.

“I will probably be in Bologna subsequent Sunday evening,” Zaki stated, including that he would solely make a brief journey, that he wanted to return to Egypt for his wedding ceremony in September.

After that, he stated he plans to pursue a doctorate in Italy and journey again to Egypt repeatedly. He stated he’s grateful for all of the help the Italian individuals had proven him.

“I’ll proceed to defend human rights all over the world, and resume my work usually,” he stated.

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