Facebook messages written by the murdered Italian student Giulio Regeni that have come to light support that he was not a spy, a claim made by Egyptian authorities.One of Giulio’s friends shared the messages with the Guardian, in which he said: “Egypt is in a difficult state right now. The dictatorship is back and until recently it wasn’t clear how brutal it was going to become. It seems that it is ‘stabilising’ now… this state of affairs is very precarious.”
He described trade unions as “the only remaining force in civil society,” and said that Cairo was “depressing, not manic like 2013” and that “this doesn’t feel like it’s going to be another 30 years.”
Regeni was a Cambridge University doctoral researcher who moved to Cairo in 2015 to carry out research into independent trade unions.
However, he was kidnapped in the middle of the street on his way to meet a friend in January 2016 and his body later found with severe torture marks including burns and stab wounds. He also had a broken neck.
Four Egyptian officers have now been charged with kidnapping, torture, and murder and are due to stand trial in Italy in October, however, Egypt has consistently refused to cooperate with the investigation.
Egypt has closed the case and refused to extradite the suspects to Italy. It denies that its security services were involved and said that Regeni died in a car accident and then that he was killed by a gang.
Through phone records, Italian prosecutors found that the alleged gang was not in Cairo at the time of Regeni’s murder.
In 2019 an eyewitness came forward and told Regeni’s family, who has spearheaded a campaign for justice for their son, that he overheard an Egyptian intelligence agent saying that “the Italian guy” had been beaten because it was thought he was a British spy.
“We thought he was an English spy, we took him, I went and after loading him in the car we had to beat him,” the witness said he heard. “I hit him in the face.”