CAIRO—Egyptian authorities arrested Patrick George Zaki, a human rights scholar, upon his return to his country last week. The arrest revived the debate about the future of the freedom of expression and freedom for research in Egypt.
Zaki is a human rights scholar with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, an independent human rights organization that is one of the few local human rights organizations still operating in Egypt. Zaki was arrested upon returning home from Italy, where he is working toward a master’s degree at the University of Bologna. He had come home to spend a vacation with his family.
His arrest warrant was issued last September, after he traveled to Italy, but lawyers say he was not aware of that. When he came to Cairo he was immediately detained at the airport, although no formal public statement had been made about what his offenses were. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights says Zaki was tortured after being detained.
Egypt’s Ministry of Interior said that Zaki’s arrest was the result of a previous decision by public prosecutors, who ordered his detention for 15 days, pending the investigation of criminal charges. A court hearing is scheduled for February 22.