Egyptian Researcher Patrick Zaki Released From Detention After 20 Months In Custody
Plus: Inside the ration card program in Lebanon, France mistakenly arrested a man suspected of killing Saudi journalist Khashoggi, rights groups request the EU to sanction Israeli spyware firm.
Hello readers. Welcome back to Inshallah, your newsletter about news from the Middle East delivered to your inbox every week.
I am Dario Sabaghi, ready to handpick for you the most newsworthy stories of the week. Subscribe to be up to date about the latest development in the Middle East. It is free.
I want to start this newsletter by suggesting to read my latest article published on Deutsche Welle about the ration card program recently launched in Lebanon to support vulnerable families amid an uncontrolled economic crisis. I try to answer this question: how is the program financed?
Egyptian researcher Patrick Zaki released
An Egyptian court has ordered the release of researcher Patrick Zaki, whose detention in February 2020 sparked international condemnation, particularly in Italy, where he had been studying. Zaki still faces charges of spreading false news, harming national security, and incitement to overthrow the state, among others. According to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a local NGO he worked for, his trial has been postponed to February.
In September, Zaki was referred to trial in front of a superior state security court for an article containing excerpts from his diary recounting the discrimination faced by the country's Coptic Christian minority. Zaki's detention drew condemnation, particularly in Italy, where he had been studying and which recently held a trial in absentia over the killing of Italian Ph.D. candidate Giulio Regeni in Egypt in 2016. Read the full story on The Guardian and my opinion article on why Italy had to put pressure on the release of researcher Patrick Zaky, who might otherwise face a similar fate to murdered student Giulio Regeni, published on The New Arab in August 2020.
France on Wednesday released a Saudi national arrested at a Paris airport over suspected links to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi after officials concluded it was a case of mistaken identity. French law enforcement sources had identified the man in detention as Khaled Aedh Al-Otaibi, the same name as a former member of the Saudi Royal Guard listed in U.S. and British sanctions documents and a U.N.-commissioned report as having been involved in Khashoggi's killing in Turkey. The Saudi Embassy in Paris had said late Tuesday that the arrested person "has nothing to do with the case in question." Read more on Reuters.
A group of 86 human rights groups and independent experts said Friday, December 3, that the European Union should add the Israeli cyber-surveillance firm NSO Group to its global sanctions list. Foreign governments allegedly used the firm's spyware to target dissidents worldwide.
NSO's Pegasus software was thrust into the spotlight in July when a consortium of international media outlets published an investigation that indicated foreign governments had used the firm's malware to hack the phones of journalists, politicians, and human rights activists. NSO Group has dismissed the reporting and says it licenses Pegasus to governments requiring surveillance tools to fight terrorism and crime. Read more on Al-Monitor.
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates just announced some significant changes to its work schedule. The Gulf nation is transitioning to a 4.5-day work week, with weekends to consist of Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday. That's significant for two reasons: It likely makes the UAE the first nation to formalize a workweek shorter than five days, and it also brings the country more in line with Western schedules. Up until now, the UAE has had a Friday-Saturday weekend, which is the standard in many predominantly Muslim countries. Read the full article on NPR.
Lebanon is witnessing one of the biggest waves of emigration in its history as the country faces its worst socio-economic conditions amid a worsening political crisis; Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia have become new destinations. Read the reporting by Rabih Damaj on Al-Monitor.
That's all for this week. The main goal of Inshallah is hosting the best of journalism to give you the sharpest information about what is happening in the Middle East and not let you behind.
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My name is Dario Sabaghi, a freelance journalist. I am interested in human rights and international news focusing on the MENA region.
Check out my work at dariosabaghi.com.
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Cover photo: Twitter