The 10th South Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Egyptian human rights activist and filmmaker Sanaa Seif on 17 March 2021 to one and a half years in prison on charges of “spreading false news related to the COVID-19 pandemic”, “misusing social media,” and insulting a police officer on duty, reported Amnesty International.
“Convicting Sanaa Seif for her freedom of expression is in clear violation of the ICCPR and should be immediately overturned. Freedom of expression is a human right and must be respected everywhere,” said Emily D’Alterio, Freemuse Communications Manager. “Freemuse calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release Sanaa Seif from prison and drop all the charges brought against her. Egypt must provide safe space for artists and others to freely express themselves even if these expressions include critical remarks on the authorities’ actions.”
Since last year, Sanaa has been held in detention when she was taken from outside of Cairo’s General Prosecutors office on 23 June 2020. The artist was to file a complaint concerning the attack on her family that happened a day earlier.
On 22 June 2020, the artist, her mother and her sister were attacked by a group of women at the Cairo prison. Seif and her family were there to receive a letter from her detained brother, activist Alaa Abdel Fatah.
According to Amnesty International, the charge of insulting a police officer refers to a situation when Sanaa had a verbal argument with a police officer who pushed the artist’s mother on the day of the attack. Sanaa broadcasted the incident on social media.
The artist has been openly critical of the authorities’ actions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in Egyptian prisons and advocated for the release of the arbitrarily detained people, such as her brother.
Laila Soueif said in her Facebook post that she is “angry about the ruling” but that her sister “is fine”. It was also mentioned that Sanaa was not present in the court during her sentencing.
Sign the petition calling on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release Sanaa, Alaa and all those detained for peacefully exercising their rights here.