Zaki to be released, pending trial, but has not been acquitted.
Italian premier Mario Draghi has expressed his satisfaction at the news that Patrick Zaki, the Egyptian human rights activist and student of Bologna University, is to be freed after being imprisoned for 22 months.
The case of Zaki "has been and will be followed with the utmost attention by the Italian government", the premier said in a statement issued by Palazzo Chigi.
Zaki is expected to be released from prison either today or in the coming days, however "he has not been acquitted" of charges of spreading false news, reports Italian news agency ANSA.
Il Presidente del Consiglio, Mario Draghi, esprime soddisfazione per la scarcerazione di Patrick #Zaki, la cui vicenda è stata e sarà seguita con la massima attenzione da parte del Governo italiano.
— Palazzo_Chigi (@Palazzo_Chigi) December 7, 2021
Zaki, a 30-year-old researcher on gender issues for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), wrote about his experiences as a Coptic Christian in Egypt.
The postgraduate was arrested in Cairo in February 2020, on his way home to Mansoura, after returning from Italy where he had been studying for a master's degree in Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Bologna.
Zaki was accused of publishing false news with the intent of inciting social disturbance and using subversive propaganda against the Egyptian state. He denies the charges.
Today's decision was announced after the third hearing of a trial against the student, reports ANSA, with the next hearing scheduled for 1 February.
Primo obiettivo raggiunto: Patrick Zaki non è più in carcere.
Adesso continuiamo a lavorare silenziosamente, con costanza e impegno.
Un doveroso ringraziamento al nostro corpo diplomatico.
— Luigi Di Maio (@luigidimaio) December 7, 2021
Italy's foreign minister Luigi Di Maio wrote on Twitter: "First objective achieved: Patrick Zaki is no longer in prison. Now we continue to work silently, with perseverance and commitment."
News of Zaki's release was also welcomed by Amnesty International Italia which stated its hope that "it will be the first step towards acquittal".