Lawyer: Detained Egyptian student Zaky moved to notorious Tora prison
Police on Thursday transferred an Egyptian rights activist who was arrested after returning to Cairo from Italy last month to a notorious prison complex, his lawyer said.
Patrick George Zaky, 28, a student at the University of Bologna in Italy, has been detained since arriving at Cairo airport on 7 February for what was supposed to be a brief trip home.
Zaky has been accused of disseminating false news and calling for unauthorised protests. An Egyptian court rejected Zaky's request last month to be released and will hear his case again Saturday.
Egypt's broad counter-terrorism laws have come to encompass most opposition activities, and allow prosecutors to repeatedly renew 15-day pretrial detention periods without filing charges or presenting evidence.
Police informed Zaky's parents, who showed up to his detention site in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura on Thursday, that they had sent their son to Tora Prison, according to defence lawyer Huda Nasrallah.
Tora Prison, on the outskirts of Cairo, has become known for its overcrowded and unhealthy conditions. Nasrallah said she didn't yet know Zaky's location in the sprawling complex. Its blocks range from minimum-security lock-ups to the supermax facility known as "Scorpion", which houses many political prisoners who have reported severe mistreatment.
"This is alarming because it's the third time that Zaky has been moved without explanation or reason,'' said Lobna Darwish, his former colleague at The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
The government's crackdown on dissent has escalated under general-turned-President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who led the military's removal of the country's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi.
Morsi's one-year rule proved divisive and sparked nationwide protests. After Sisi came to power in 2013, his government outlawed all unauthorised demonstrations.
Zaky's case has sparked an outcry in Italy, a country still traumatised by the killing of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni in 2016. Italy's public prosecutor is investigating several Egyptian security agents in connection with Regeni's torture and death. (AP)