WOMEN’S RIGHTS STUDENT JAILED: Three Years In Egyptian Jail For Spreading ‘Fake News’
An Austrian student has been jailed for three years in an Egyptian jail in a retrial of accusations of spreading fake news.
Accused Ahmed Samir Santawy, 31, had been on a family visit to his homeland last year.
He was interrogated about his research on women’s abortion rights and Islam.
But he was seized and accused of spreading fake news on social media and joining a terrorist group.
Judges in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, sentenced Santawy to three years in prison on Monday, 4th July.
Amnesty International Austria said he had been found guilty of “spreading fake news on social media”.
Santawy, a postgraduate student of the Central European University in Vienna, was arrested during a family visit to his home country in February last year.
He was researching women’s rights and abortion rights, but the authorities claimed he was “joining a terrorist group” and “spreading false news”.
Days later, he was also accused of “funding a terrorist organisation”.
At the time, Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Ahmed Samir Santawy’s arrest and detention appear to be completely arbitrary and part of a pattern of punishing independent voices.”
Santawy was first convicted and sentenced to four years in prison in June last year. However, the conviction was quashed at the beginning of this year.
His latest conviction and sentencing, after months spent in custody, come at the end of his retrial.
Annemarie Schlack, general manager of Amnesty International Austria, said: “The whole process was a farce that dragged on for months. Today’s ruling puts a sad end to that.”
Amnesty has called for his immediate release.
And Shalini Randeria, rector of the Central European University, said: “Ahmed Samir Santawy is a political prisoner. He was in prison for exercising his right to freedom of opinion and expression, both as a scientist and as an individual.”
Rights groups say there are currently around 60,000 political prisoners languishing in overcrowded cells in Egyptian prisons.