Egyptian activist sentenced to 18 months in prison for ‘fake news’


Her family and lawyer said that on Wednesday, an Egyptian court convicted a prominent human rights activist for spreading false news and insulting a police officer, and sentenced her to 18 months in prison.

Sanaa Seif, from the family of the most famous activists in Egypt, was arrested in June of last year, and the prosecution accused her of “spreading false news and rumors” about the health conditions in the country and the spread of the Corona virus in prisons.

Her lawyer, Hisham Ramada, said she was also convicted of insulting a police officer on Facebook. He said that they will appeal the judgment of the Cairo Criminal Court on Wednesday to a higher court.

Seif, who has been in detention since her arrest, has denied these accusations.

The ruling is expected to anger international human rights groups who accuse the Egyptian authorities of waging a widespread crackdown on dissent and imprisoning thousands – most of them Islamists, but also others, including many well-known secular activists.

Her sister Mona Seif, an activist at the time, said that Saif was arrested while she was with other members of her family at the Public Prosecution Office to file a complaint about an attack against them outside the Tora prison complex in Cairo the previous day.

The group was heading to Tora daily, hoping to receive a message from their imprisoned activist son Alaa Abdel Fattah, stating that prison officials had promised to pass it on to them.

Saif’s father, Ahmed Saif Al-Islam, who died in 2014, was a well-known human rights lawyer. Her mother, Leila Soueif, is a mathematician and a prominent advocate for academic independence. Her aunt, award-winning novelist, Ahdaf Soueif.

Her brother Alaa Abdel Fattah became prominent in Egypt’s 2011 uprising. He was arrested after a relatively minor anti-government protest in 2019.

Abdel Fattah’s arrest on September 29, 2019, after his release in March of that year came after five years in prison for his participation in a peaceful demonstration against military trials of civilians.

Tuesday’s ruling was not the first against Saif, a film editor who worked in “The Square,” a 2013 Oscar-nominated documentary about the 2011 uprising.

In 2016, she was sentenced to six months in prison after being found guilty of insulting a government employee while on duty.

She also served a 15-month sentence of three years in prison for demonstrating against the law banning public gatherings, and was pardoned early.

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