Egypt Begins Trial of Researcher Patrick George Zaki for Spreading False News

Egypt has begun on Monday, the trial of a researcher and human rights advocate Patrick George Zaki for spreading false news.

The Supreme Procuratorate of National Security of Egypt (SSSP) indicted Zaki for “spreading false information at home and abroad,” and cited as grounds for arrest an article he wrote two years ago about his hardships in Egypt as a Copt.

Zaki, held in pre-trial detention for 19 months, now faced a maximum sentence of five years in jail. 

“It’s really unpleasant to think that someone could go to prison for up to five years for writing an article,” Hussein Baoumi, a researcher on Egypt and Libya at Amnesty International told Al Jazeera.

The hearing was attended by embassy representatives from Italy, Germany, Canada, and a lawyer from the European Union. 

Zaki, who was pursuing a post-graduate degree in gender and women’s studies at the University of Bologna, was arrested on February 7, 2020, after landing in Cairo for a short home visit.

Zaki’s lawyers said last year, the researcher was tortured and threatened during his interrogations, an allegation rejected by Egypt’s top prosecutor, Al Jazeera reported

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