Egypt court orders release of anti-sexual harassment activist

Egypt court orders release of anti-sexual harassment activist
An Egyptian court has ordered the release of an activist detained after complaining of sexual harassment in the country.
2 min read
18 December, 2018
Activists have complained of rampant sexual harassment in Egypt [Getty]
An Egyptian court on Tuesday ordered the release of an activist jailed after she criticised sexual harassment in the country in an only video.

Amal Fathi was jailed in May after posting a video online, her lawyer said, with the order of her release comign after her husband Mohamed Lotfy, a human rights activist, received a Franco-German prize for his work.

Attorney Mohammad Ramadan said on Facebook that a Cairo criminal court ordered Fathi's release on "probation".

This means she will still have to report to a police station at certain times, but would be released from jail.

Proceedings to clear her name could begin as soon as Wednesday unless the prosecutor appeals the court's decision.

Amnesty International welcomed the news and called on the government to immediately release her.

"Today's court decision to order the conditional release of Amal Fathi, who has unjustly spent the past seven months behind bars, offers a glimmer of hope that her agonising ordeal in prison will come to an end soon," Amnesty's Najia Bounaim said in a statement.

"The Egyptian authorities must now comply with the court's decision and ensure she is immediately released and reunited with her family," Bounaim said.

Read also: Catcalled in Cairo - Ending sexual harassment in Egypt

"Releasing her on probation is not enough," Bounaim added, and called on authorities to drop all charges against Fathi.

Fathi posted a video on Facebook in May, accusing authorities of failing to protect women and alleging that guards at a bank had sexually harassed her.

Some 60 percent of women in Egypt said they had been victims of some form of sexual harassment during their life, in a 2017 report from UN Women and Promundo, although other figures have put the figure much higher.

Fathi was handed a two-year suspended jail sentence in Septmeber and fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($560 dollars) for spreading "fake news".

She was detained in connection with another case in which she is accused of "membership in a terrorist group", another one of her lawyers, Doaa Mustafa, said in September.

Her husband, Lotfy, heads the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms - a group that is closely monitored by authorities.

On Tuesday he received Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law at a ceremony at the residence of the French ambassador in Cairo.