Al-Sisi pardons Egyptian researcher Patrick Zaki and his lawyer Human Rights News

Sisi has pardoned two prominent human rights defenders, a lawyer and activist with links to Italy.

State media reported that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has pardoned human rights researcher Patrick Zaki and lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer.

The pardon came on Wednesday, a day after Zaki was sentenced to three years in prison after being found guilty of spreading “false news”.

Zaki, 32, was jailed for an article recounting the discrimination he and other members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority said they experienced.

The government-run Al-Ahram newspaper said Sisi also granted a presidential pardon to El-Baqer, the lawyer of Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Egypt’s most famous political prisoner.

The pardon came after the US State Department said on Twitter that it was “concerned” about Zaki’s sentence and urged the “immediate release of him and those detained unjustly.”

Zaki was a graduate student at the University of Bologna when Egyptian authorities arrested him in February 2020 upon his arrival at Cairo airport during a home visit to see his family.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Tuesday that Rome’s “commitment to a positive resolution of the Patrick Zaki case has not ceased.”

“We still have faith,” Meloni added.

Cairo has been repeatedly criticized for its human rights record, with tens of thousands of political prisoners – including journalists, lawyers, trade unionists and artists – behind bars, according to rights groups.

The government launched a “national dialogue” this year, hoping to bring in an opposition that has collapsed in a decade of repression since Sisi deposed Egypt’s first democratically elected president, the late Mohamed Morsi, after popular protests.

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