CEU Joins GEMMA Consortium Call for Immediate Release of Student Patrick George Zaki

February 17, 2020

Budapest, February 17, 2020 — "As a university that has had to defend its academic freedom and autonomy, CEU has a special obligation to speak out whenever such freedoms come under threat". So said CEU Rector and President Michael Ignatieff, as the university stood alongside its consortium universities of the European Union Erasmus Mundus supported program in Gender Studies, GEMMA in calling for the immediate release of GEMMA student Patrick George Zaki.

Statement from Gemma partners:

We express our grave concern about the situation of Patrick George Zaki. We support all those who seek to perform the essential mission of promoting knowledge and understanding through teaching and research, safely and without obstruction.

 ”The Erasmus Mundus Master’s Degree in Women and Gender Studies(GEMMA), coordinated by the University of Granada (Spain) with the participation of the University of Bologna, Central European University (CEU), University of Lodz, University of Oviedo, University of Utrecht and University of York and the support of the European Union, expresses its utmost concern about the safety of one of its students, Mr Patrick George Zaki, who was detained on February 7, 2020 upon his arrival to Egypt for a short visit to his family.

Patrick George Zaki, a 27-year old Egyptian human rights researcher and currently a student of the GEMMA program at the University of Bologna, is being held in custody in Egypt, having being taken by the National Security Agency at Cairo Airport. He was interrogated on issues related to his work on human rights and later transferred to NSA offices in his hometown, Mansoura. He has since remained in detention, pending further investigation. There is no more news from him.

NGOs and lawyers dealing with previous detention cases fear that he is at risk of torture. CEU, along with its GEMMA partners, urges the Egyptian government to immediately and unconditionally release Patrick George Zaki, and to furthermore, whilst he remains in custody, ensure that he is neither tortured nor suffer other ill-treatment and has access to his lawyers and family. We also demand that all necessary measures to prevent further threats and attacks against students, researchers, academics, journalists and human rights.

GEMMA partners:

University of Granada, Spain

University of Bologna, Italy

Central European University (CEU), Hungary

University of Lodz, Poland

University of Oviedo, Spain

University of Utrecht, the Netherlands

University of York, United Kingdom


CEU has sent this statement to the Egyptian Embassy in Budapest.