Egyptian activist to return to jail any time: Attorney

CAIRO (AP) – An Egyptian activist expects to return to prison “at any time” after an appeals court upheld a two-year sentence against her for posting a video online in which she criticised the government and decried sexual harassment, her attorney said on Tuesday.

Lawyer Doaa Moustafa said the Misdemeanour Court of Appeals in Cairo’s Maadi suburb, last Sunday upheld Amal Fathy’s sentence for insulting employees in a bank and using abusive language to criticise state institutions and decry sexual harassment against women.

Fathy had been sentenced last September, but her sentence was suspended on appeal after she paid 10,000 Egyptian pounds (USD560).

However, she was not released on house arrest until December 27 last year, pending an investigation into separate charges.

Now, she expects to be taken into custody “at any time”, following the court’s last Sunday ruling, Moustafa said.

Moustafa said Fathy can still appeal her original two-year sentence before the Court of Cassation, Egypt’s final recourse for appeals in criminal cases.

Rights group Amnesty International decried last Sunday’s court ruling, saying it was an “outrageous case of injustice.”

“The fact that a survivor of sexual harassment is being punished with a two-year prison sentence simply for speaking out about her experience is utterly disgraceful. This verdict makes a mockery of justice and should be a stain on the conscience of the Egyptian authorities,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Director, in a statement last Sunday.

Bounaim added, “The timing of the verdict is particularly cruel, coming only days after Amal was reunited with her loved ones.”