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UA 016/20
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13.02.2020 Correction

We have changed the date in the lead and in the letter:

Patrick Zaki George was arrested on 7 February 2020 and not 7 November 2019

Human rights defender detained and tortured

AI-Index: MDE 12/1800/2020

On 7 February 2020, airport immigration officers arbitrarily arrested and tortured human rights defender Patrick Zaki George at 4:30 am upon his arrival at Cairo airport on charges including «disseminating false news», «inciting to protest» and «incitement to violence and terrorist crimes». In detention, National Security Agency officers questioned and tortured him before he appeared in front of the prosecutor the following day.


Patrick Zaki George works as a human rights' researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), with a focus on gender and sexual minorities. Since August 2019, he moved to Italy to do his Masters in Gender and Women's studies at the University of Bologna.

The arrest of Patrick comes in the context of the post-September 2019 protest crackdown, the largest on dissenting voices since 2014, as his arrest warrant was dated 24 September. He joins human rights defenders Alaa Abdel Fattah, Mohamed el-Baqer, Mahienour el-Masry who remain arbitrarily detained.

On 20 September 2019, scattered protests broke across Egyptian cities, calling on President al-Sisi to resign. The protests had been triggered by viral videos in which Mohamed Ali, a former army contractor accused army leaders and the president of wasting public money on building luxury properties. In the weeks that followed, Amnesty International documented how the Egyptian security forces carried out sweeping arrests of peaceful protesters, rounding up journalists, human rights lawyers, activists, lawyers and political figures in a bid to silence critics and deter further protests from taking place. According to Egyptian human rights lawyers, the authorities have arrested at least 4000 individuals in relation to their perceived participation or support of the protests. The authorities ordered the pre-trial detention of at least 3,715 pending investigations over «terrorism» related charges in the largest single protests-related criminal investigation in Egypt’s history.

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