The Political Prisoners Dilemma: The pardoning of Patrick Zaki and Egypt's National Dialogue


The release of Patrick Zaki was some rare good human rights news from Egypt. 

After being sentenced to three years in jail, he was then pardoned the next day by President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, and was able to return to Italy. 

Patrick had been hanging in legal limbo since 2020, when he was first arrested, and subsequently charged with “disseminating false news” and “inciting to protest”.

His release was warmly welcomed by human rights defenders and lead to questions as to whether we could see more releases and presidential pardons, particularly as the work of the National Dialogue builds up. 

The National Dialogue was first announced by the president last year, but was then delayed, only starting work this year. 

It has been tasked with discussing political, economic, and social issues in Egypt. Some opposition members in Egypt are hoping that it could serve as platform to steer the country back to democracy. Others are more skeptical.

This week on The New Arab Voice, we look at the case of Patrick Zaki and why he was arrested, the state of human rights in Egypt, and the National Dialogue and whether it will be able to make an impact. 

Joining us to discuss human rights in Egypt is Dr. Aida Seif el-Dawla, a retired professor of psychiatry, and one of four founders of the El Nadim Center for the Psychological Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture, an Egyptian independent NGO, founded in 1993.

And to help us understand the National Dialogue, we speak with Mirette Mabrouk, a senior fellow and the Director of the Egypt and Horn of Africa programme at the Middle East Institute. 

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This podcast is written and produced by Hugo Goodridge. 

Theme music by Omar al-Fil. 

Other music by Blue Dot Sessions. 

To get in touch with the producers, follow then tweet us at @TheNewArabVoice.

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