Egyptian researcher leaves prison after pardon: familyThu, 20 Jul 2023 11:55:27 GMT

Egyptian researcher Patrick Zaki on Thursday walked out of prison, his family said, a day after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi granted him a pardon in the wake of an international outcry.Zaki’s three-year prison sentence on Tuesday for “spreading false news” had prompted some participants to walk out of a government dialogue aimed at giving the opposition a voice.”Patrick is free,” his sister, Marise George, said Thursday on Facebook alongside an image of the 32-year-old outside the Mansoura prison, some 110 kilometres (60 miles) north of the capital Cairo.He was jailed over a 2019 article recounting the discrimination he and other members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority say they have suffered.Sisi on Wednesday granted presidential pardons to Zaki and five others — three men and two women.They include Mohamed al-Baqer, the lawyer for Alaa Abdel Fattah, Egypt’s best known political prisoner, according to the decree published on the official gazette.Baqer’s relatives on Thursday said they were still waiting for his release from a prison in Cairo.Zaki was studying at Bologna University in Italy until his arrest in 2020 while on a visit to Egypt.Rights defenders have said Zaki was beaten and electrocuted during his detention.Thousands in Italy signed petitions calling for Zaki’s release, and the country’s senate voted in 2021 in favour of granting him Italian citizenship.Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who speaks regularly with Sisi, in a video message on Wednesday welcomed the news of Zaki’s impending release and said “he will be back tomorrow in Italy”.