An Egyptian court sentenced political activist Sanaa Seif to 18 months in prison Wednesday for “spreading false news,” concluding a case that raises significant questions about the status of free expression and human rights in Egypt.
The sentencing stems from Seif’s detainment and arrest in June. Seif’s family claims Egyptian authorities forcibly abducted Seif while she was attempting to file a complaint about an alleged assault on herself and her mother, beginning a lengthy investigation and detention concerning her political activity.
Specifically, the prosecutors examined Seif’s use of social media to advocate for the release of prisoners due to the possibility of coronavirus spreading in incarceration facilities. Egyptian prosecutors characterized Seif’s claims of increased health risks as unfounded.
Several human rights groups have criticized the ruling with Amnesty International calling the conviction a “travesty of justice” based on “bogus charges.” The international community also spoke out against the general human rights situation in Egypt last week, where the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council released a statement demonstrating concern for the country restricting civil liberties and using terrorism legislation to target groups and activists.
This is not the first time that Seif’s politically active family has been involved in disputes with the Egyptian government. Seif’s brother Alaa Abd El-Fattah is a high-profile blogger who has been arrested several times for political demonstrations. Seif’s other sibling, Mona Seif, has spoken out against the ruling on Twitter and expressed support for both of her siblings.