Prominent human rights campaigner Sanaa Seif has been sentenced to 18 months in prison by a court in Egypt, which found her guilty of “spreading false news”.
Seif, 27, was first detained on 23 June, when she went to file a complaint at the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Cairo, alleging she had been assaulted the day before.
She was later charged with making up claims about the spread of coronavirus in Egyptian prisons.
Human rights campaigners have said that the accusations by the authorities against Seif are unfounded, and an excuse to punish her for her human rights activism.
This will be the third time the Egyptian regime has imprisoned Seif since 2014.
The allegation of assault made by Seif regarded a visit to Tora Prison, which she went to with her mother and sister, aiming to give a letter to her brother. Her brother, Alaa Abdel Fattah is a well-known blogger, who has been imprisoned since September 2019.
Outside the prison, the family members were attacked by a group of women with sticks, who also allegedly stole some of their belongings. A police officer at the scene reportedly pushed her mother into the group of attackers.
In court, the prosecution said that Seif had been spreading “false news on the deterioration of the country’s health situation, and the spread of the coronavirus in prisons”, “misusing social media” and insulting a police officer.
Seif had previously accused the Egyptian prison authorities of mishandling the coronavirus outbreak. It is thought that 14 prisoners died in prisons and police cells between March and July 2020.
Her sister, Mona Seif, wrote on Facebook: “Sisi’s Egypt is a nightmare. He is intent on wasting their lives and health in prison #FreeSanaa #FreeAlaa.”
Since the ascension of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in 2013, after the military deposed the elected presidency of Mohammed Morsi, human rights and freedom of expression have been severely restricted in Egypt.
Dissidents, bloggers, journalists and activists are often detained or harassed by state forces for speaking out against the regime, which has now even faced criticism from its key ally, the United States.