Thursday, 29 Jul 2021

Egypt sentences TikTok star to 10 years in prison for ‘human trafficking’

Egyptian police on Tuesday arrested a TikTok star who has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for her posts on social media.

Haneen Hossam, a 20-year-old Cairo University student who became an influencer on video-sharing app TikTok, was sentenced in absentia on Sunday alongside four others.

While all five were fined 2000 Egyptian pounds (NZ$181) for encouraging women to share videos in exchange for money, which Egyptian authorities equated to human trafficking, Hossam received a harsher prison sentence, which her lawyer attributed to her not appearing in court.

“It was her legal right not to show up,” said her lawyer Hani Sameh, announcing she would appeal her sentence. “We hope that she can get a reduced jail sentence or an acquittal.”

On Monday, Hossam released a video begging for clemency, saying she had never harmed anyone.

Her arrest was the latest episode in nearly a year of legal proceedings against the five for “inciting debauchery” by publishing online videos, which prosecutors claim violated social norms in the conservative Muslim-majority nation.

Hossam was first arrested last year after posting a video explaining how women could earn money by posting videos online, which authorities interpreted as encouraging online prostitution. “You will be able to form friendships with people in a respectable way,” she said in the video.

She was first convicted in July alongside another female social media influencer, Mawaddah Al-Adham, who was found guilty of sharing “indecent” photos and videos with her 1 million Instagram followers, and three men who were accused of helping the two women.

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