Egypt sentences TikTok influencers over 'human trafficking'

By: AFP      Published: 10:03 PM, 21 Jun, 2021
Egypt sentences TikTok influencers over 'human trafficking'

An Egyptian court has sentenced two women TikTok influencers to six and 10 years in jail respectively for "human trafficking", a lawyer representing one of them told AFP on Monday.

The ruling against Haneen Hossam and Mowada al-Adham was handed down late Sunday by the Cairo Criminal Court.

Adham was sentenced to six years, her lawyer Saber Sokkar said, while Hossam given a 10-year sentence, both accused of "human trafficking".

Other charges include "corrupting family values, inciting debauchery and encouraging young women to practice sexual relations," Sokkar said.

Adham was present in court for the ruling but Hossam, who is on the run, was sentenced in absentia, the lawyer said.

He said that Hossam was given a higher sentence because she had failed to appear in court at previous hearings.

The women can appeal, the lawyer said.

They were arrested last year and sentenced to two years each in jail for "attacking society's values" in videos published on TikTok.

In one video Hossam told her 1.3 million subscribers that girls could work for her for money, for which she was also accused last year of "debauchery" and "human trafficking".

But in January an appeals court acquitted the pair.

The targeting of female influencers has rekindled a heated debate in the deeply conservative Muslim country over what constitutes individual freedoms and social values.

The clampdown is however not unusual in Egypt, where several belly dancers and pop singers have been targeted in recent years over online content deemed too racy or suggestive.

Rights groups say more freedoms have been curtailed in Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who took office in 2014.

Egypt has in recent years enforced strict internet controls through laws allowing authorities to block websites seen as a threat to national security and to monitor personal social media accounts with over 5,000 followers.