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Egypt: Imprisoned student in free speech case Patrick Zaki to be released

Patrick Zaki, Coptic doctoral researcher at the central-northern Italian university,   -  
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Egyptian student Patrick Zaki will be released from prison, although "not acquitted" of the charges against him.

This was reported by his lawyer at the end of the hearing held in Mansura though the date of release of the young man, enrolled at the University of Bologna, is still unknown for the moment.

Representatives of the Italian Embassy participated as observers in the hearing.

Zaki, who thanked Italy for what it is doing in his favor, has been in prison since February 7, 2020 and is accused of subversive propaganda and spreading false information.

The 30-year-old was recently transferred from Tora prison (in the capital), where he spent his time in custody, to a prison in Mansura.

Amnesty International commented on the news with "a huge sigh of relief, we hope this will be the first step towards an acquittal". The next hearing in the trial will take place on 1 February 2022. 

Zaki, a Coptic doctoral researcher at the central-northern Italian university was arrested on February 7, 2020, while returning to Egypt for a holiday and 19 months of detention were justified on charges of subversive propaganda made in 10 Facebook posts. 

The indictment instead was based on charges of "spreading fake news inside and outside the country" based on three articles written by Zaki, including one in 2019 on Christians in Egypt persecuted by ISIS and discriminated by fringes of Muslim society. 

The researcher and activist risks up to five years in jail, Egyptian judicial sources say.

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