Egypt: Rights activist Sanaa Seif sentenced for “spreading false news”

This statement was originally published on on 19 March 2021.

Human rights activist and film editor Sanaa Seif has been sentenced to 18 months in prison in Egypt for protesting crowded, unsanitary conditions in which prisoners, including her brother Alaa Abdel Fattah, are held, where they are at risk of Covid-19. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) condemns the sentencing and calls for the siblings to be released immediately.

Sanaa Seif was charged with disseminating “false news on the deterioration of the country’s health situation, and the spread of the coronavirus in prison” and “misusing social media”, in addition to insulting a police officer. She was not brought to the courtroom for the sentencing.

Sanaa Seif was taken into custody on 23 June 2020 after protesting with her sister, human rights lawyer Mona Seif, their mother, Cairo University professor and human rights activist Laila Soueif and Aunt, novelist and political and cultural analyst Ahdaf Soueif, that they were not being allowed to communicate with Alaa Abdel Fattah, and had no news about the conditions in which he was held. They were concerned about his health as the Covid-19 pandemic spread in Egypt, including the prison system. Alaa Abdel Fattah was arrested on 27 September 2019 and has yet to be brought to trial. He has undertaken hunger strikes to protest his arbitrary detention.

On 17 March 2021, Mona Seif wrote on her Facebook page the following, “Sisi’s Egypt is a nightmare. He is intent on wasting their lives and health in prison #FreeSanaa #FreeAlaa.”

On the same day her mother wrote on her Facebook page, “The few seconds when I saw her as she was getting into the police transport told me she was OK.”

Sanaa Seif was detained on 23 June 2020 outside the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Cairo, where she had gone with her family to report a physical assault the previous day outside of Tora High Security Prison, where Alaa Abdel Fattah is being held.

On 22 June 2020, Sanaa Seif and her mother and sister were waiting for a letter from her brother outside the prison when a group of women beat them with sticks and stole their belongings.

Sanaa Seif can appeal to the Court of Cassations, but she will have served her sentence before the Court hears her case, notes her aunt.

Hundreds of people including well-known actors, authors and personalities have called on Egypt to #FreeSanaa and #FreeAlaa. GCHR calls for all supporters, United Nations mechanisms and governments to call on Egypt to overturn the sentence against Sanaa Seif, and repeats its calls for the unconditional release of blogger and human rights activist Alaa Abdel Fattah.

Please tweet your appeals with the hashtag #FreeSanaa to:

UN special procedures: @UN_SPExperts

United States State Department: @StateDept

United Kingdom Foreign Office: @FCOHumanRights

The post Egypt: Rights activist Sanaa Seif sentenced for “spreading false news” appeared first on IFEX.



Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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