Egypt: Court Acquits Controversial TV Anchorwoman of Defamation Charges

Egypt: Court Acquits Controversial TV Anchorwoman of Defamation Charges

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An Egyptian court acquitted on Sunday a TV anchorwoman after accepting her appeal against a prison sentence on charges of defamation and infringement of personal privacy for airing personal photos of a guest on her show without her permission.

The incident dates back to October 2015 when Riham Saeed interviewed a young woman, Somaya Tarek, on her TV show Sabaya al-Kheir. During her interview on the show, Tarek said that she was “harassed” by her assaulter and that when she threatened to call security, he followed her and slapped her.

In a video footage featuring the incident, the young woman is seen walking in a mall a few steps behind a man, speaking on her cell phone. The man turns around, they exchange a few words then all of a sudden he angrily slaps her twice before security guards push him away.

On her show, Saeed appeared to defend the man and blame the woman, implying that Tarek “has brought it on herself” as Saeed showed personal photos of Tarek, including ones of her on the beach, without her knowledge. Within the context of alleged harassment, displaying these photos seemed to implicate the victim.

Tarek said that photos were taken from her cell phone without permission by Saeed’s production team. She had left the phone with them to charge it before airtime.

In February, Saeed was sentenced to 18 months: six months in prison along with an EGP 10,000 fine for defamation, and 12 months’ imprisonment plus EGP 15,000 on a charge of infringement of personal privacy.

The whole incident infuriated social media users then and called for the suspension of Saeed’s show. Accordingly, Saeed’s show was suspended as major advertisers withdrew their sponsorship of the programme and announced that they are not responsible for its content.

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