Egyptian activist faces 'fake news' trial on Saturday

Egyptian activist Sanaa Seif to be tried for ‘fake news’ and ‘slander’ on Saturday
2 min read
11 September, 2020
Egyptian authorities have charged Sanaa Seif under the Penal Code and Cybercrime Law for disseminating information regarding Covid-19 in the Tora prison complex in Cairo.
Sanaa Seif was arrested in June outside the Prosecutor General's office. [Twitter]

The trial of Egyptian activist Sanaa Seif will begin on Saturday, where she will have to fight back against the government’s accusations alleging she disseminated "fake news" and "slander" against Egyptian authorities, court documents show.

The 26 year-old was charged under the Penal Code and Cybercrime Law for disseminating "false" information regarding Covid-19 in the Tora prison complex in Cairo, and allegedly harming the “status and honour” of a public employee working at the prison, the documents stated.

Seif is the sister of prominent jailed rights activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who was a key figure in the 2011 Egyptian uprisings. She was detained in June after being arrested outside the Prosecutor General's office while requesting a letter from her brother after hearing from him in three months.

The trial will see testimony from the security head of the Tora prison gates, Mohamed el-Nashar, Sanaa’s sister Mona Seif claimed on Twitter. He argues the women tried to “force” themselves into the prison to visit their brother, and that Sanaa “threatened to slander him on social media if her demands were not met.”

“The case centers around an accusation that Sanaa is working as an outside operative to undermine the country's security and distort its good image. She allegedly does this with her Facebook profile,” Mona Seif said.

Amnesty International condemned the repeated attacks on the family and Seif's arrest.

"Sanaa Seif and her family have suffered years of harassment and intimidation for their human rights activism, but the events of the past two days mark another new low," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's MENA Research and Advocacy Director.

"The fact that Sanaa Seif was taken from right outside the Public Prosecutor's office shows just how brazen the Egyptian security forces have become," he said in a statement.

Her brother has been held in pre-trial detention in Cairo's Tora prison since September last year, when he was arrested alongside hundreds of protesters, activists, lawyers and journalists as part of a renewed crackdown on dissent.

The 38-year-old has not been convicted, but like many government critics has been charged with "belonging to an illegal organisation" and "spreading false news".

Egypt has increasingly targeted government critics in a crackdown since the 2013 military ouster of the country's first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi.

The clampdown has swept up thousands of the late Morsi's Islamist supporters as well as secular activists, lawyers and academics.

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