CAIRO, 13 January 2021 – Two female Egyptian TikTok stars are out of jail after an appeal court ruled Tuesday to acquit them.
The ruling in appeal reverses jail terms of two years each handed down against the two last year for posting indecent videos.
The two – Haneen Hossam and Mawada Eladham – were found guilty of violating family morals and jailed for two years in prison.
The TikTok stars had been in jail nine months prior to their acquittal.
The executive director of the Women’s Center for Guidance and Legal Awareness, Reda Eldanbouki, described the verdict as a “victory for freedom of expression”.
The 20-year-old Haneen Hossam who is a student at Cairo University fainted on hearing that the appeal court had acquitted them, according to an account by one of her lawyers, Hussein El Baker, cited by Reuters.
She is still facing human trafficking charges for which a hearing date has not yet been set.
Hossam was found guilty of encouraging women to broadcast videos in exchange for money while Mawada Eladham was found guilty of publishing indecent pictures and videos.
Efforts by activists defending the rights of women or challenging Egypt’s conservative social values have been interpreted as accused of “inciting debauchery” and social media has also been blamed.
Human rights groups mounted pressure on Cairo to free the activists and are celebrating their release as a victory for human rights.
Last year, Egyptian parliamentarians voted in favor of suspending the video-sharing TikTok app, saying it promotes nudity and immorality.
The 20-year-old Hossam explained how by getting more followers, including by befriending men, they could earn money from advertisements based on followers.
The court which sentenced her and Egyptian authorities interpreted the post to mean she was encouraging women to sell sex online.