Sisi rival's campaign aide jailed for 'spreading fake news'

Sisi rival's campaign aide jailed for 'spreading fake news'
Hisham Geneina has been sentenced to five years behind bars for remarks made about the military regime during the Egyptian presidential campaign.
2 min read
24 April, 2018
Geneina during his tenure as anti-corruption chief [AP]
An Egyptian military court sentenced former anti-corruption chief Hisham Geneina to five years behind bars on Tuesday, after being charged with "spreading fake news" damaging to the country and insulting the armed forces, sources told The New Arab's sister site al-Araby al-Jadeed. 

"The verdict is five years, and we're doing the appeal (procedure) now," Geneina's lawyer Ali Taha said.

Geneina was working as a chief aide to former Egyptian presidential hopeful Sami Anan in February when he was arrested during the run-up to the election, after saying in an interview with Huffington Post's Arabic website that Anan had documents that could prove damning to state officials. 

Court documents seen by al-Araby al-Jadeed say that the case against Geneina includes "deliberately broadcasting false rumours about the internal situation of the country," saying he did this through the Huffpost Arabi website and on social media, where he made remarks "including false allegations about the armed forces in relation to the aftermath of the events of January 2011, all of which weakened the reputation of the Egyptian state apparatus".

The prosecutor also rejected the medical report submitted by Geneina's lawyer stating Geneina was suffering from concussion after he had been attacked by unknown persons. It said Geneina was suffering symptoms such as lack of concentration and awareness when he made the statements to the HuffPost journalists, who published them without verification or consent.

Read more: A cabinet of kleptocracy in Sisi's pseudo-parliament

Geneina was attacked by unidentified men outside his home weeks before his arrest.

Geneina's lawyers have since expressed concern about his physical and psychological condition and demanded that he be moved to a "specialised" hospital while in detention.

In 2016, the former anti-graft chief was sentenced to a year in prison for "exaggerating" the level of corruption in the country.

Anan was detained in January shortly after announcing his intentions to run in last month's presidential elections, with the military accusing him of illegally campaigning while still a registered reserve officer.

The former military chief of staff was the most credible rival to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who won the election after all serious contenders were arrested or forced to withdraw.

Human Rights Watch called on Sisi to end human rights abuses in a report published earlier this month.

"Sisi's disdain for his citizens' most basic rights marked his re-election campaign," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

"In his final term in office, as mandated by the constitution, Sisi should change course and leave a positive legacy instead of being remembered as an autocrat who oversaw a human rights crisis."