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  • Patrick George Zaki, 27, had been in the Italian city of Bologna since August 2019 for his postgraduate studies.

    Patrick George Zaki, 27, had been in the Italian city of Bologna since August 2019 for his postgraduate studies. | Photo: Twitter (@MohamedNasrAJA)

Published 9 February 2020

Human rights in Egypt have been blatantly violated for years, but the situation in the country has worsened since 2013, according to rights groups.

An Egyptian researcher and activist was arrested Friday at Cairo's international airport following his arrival from Italy to Egypt’s capital for a family visit, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

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Patrick George Zaki, 27, had been in the Italian city of Bologna since August 2019 for his postgraduate studies.

“He was taken into the custody of Egypt’s National Security Investigations at the airport and disappeared for the following 24 hours,” the EIPR wrote on its website.

During those hours, Zaki was beaten, subjected to electric shocks, threatened and questioned about his work and activism, according to his lawyers.

Prosecutors then ordered him to remain in custody for 15 days until they investigate a whole array of allegations, including publishing false news, inciting protests without permission, calling for the state to be overthrown, managing a social media account that aims to undermine the social order and public safety, and inciting to commit violence and terrorist crimes, the organization added.

"EIPR demands the immediate release of Patrick George Zaki and an end to continued harassment and arbitrary detention of human rights professionals, members of civil society groups and journalists," the group said in its statement.

Human rights in Egypt have been blatantly violated for years, but the situation in the country has worsened since 2013, when President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took power, according to human rights organizations.

The North African nation has, since the end of its so-called Arab Spring, seen an unprecedented crackdown on freedoms and a surge in torture practices against rights defenders, civil society activists, journalists, and political opponents.

Thousands of people have been arrested, both secular-leaning activists and members of the Muslim Brotherhood, while there has been a threefold rise in the number of death sentences handed down by Egyptian courts.

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