9 March 2023
The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) condemns the Court of Appeal’s decision to reject Mawaddah al-Adham’s appeal against her six-year prison sentence and 200,000-pound fine, in the case known in local media as “the TikTok girls”. The court’s decision is final and cannot be appealed.
Before the verdict, the appeal prosecution recommended the acceptance of the appeal, which means that the court could have either decided to accept the appeal and annul the verdict or overturn it, whether by setting a date to look into the case again or referring it to another circuit.
The case started when a police force arrested Al-Adham at the request of the Public Prosecution during the campaign the latter launched against TikTokers. Then, Al-Adham was referred to trial, and the Economic Court sentenced her to two years in prison and ordered her to pay a fine of 300,000 pounds. Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal upheld the fine and cancelled the prison sentence.
During the course of the first case, the Public Prosecution referred Al-Adham to the criminal court in connection with another case, over a video clip that the Public Prosecution considered a violation of the Egyptian family values and a form of human trafficking and incitement to spread immorality and debauchery. It should be noted here that the same video was not considered by the Economic Court as evidence of conviction, but rather as evidence of acquittal. On 21 June 2021, the Criminal Court sentenced Al-Adham to six years in prison and ordered her to pay a fine of 200,000 pounds.
In August 2021, AFTE and Ahmed Ragheb for Law and Legal Consultations filed a memorandum of reasons of appeal against the ruling. The memorandum was based on several reasons, including the addressing of a case that was previously decided upon by the final judgment issued by the Economic Court regarding the accusation of destroying family values, relying on oral evidence by considering it technical evidence and excluding the only technical piece of evidence found in the case papers, the court’s failure to respond to the appellant’s defence regarding Al-Adham’s inability to control her personal accounts, the subject of the crime, in addition to the fact that the videos that Al-Adham filmed with the two children were published with the consent of their parents. However, the court ignored all these reasons and rejected the appeal and upheld the judgment.
Al-Adham has no way to obtain her freedom except through a presidential pardon.
So, AFTE calls on President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to issue a presidential pardon for Al-Adham. It believes that the court did not rely on any solid evidence of conviction, but rather on patriarchal and personal considerations that contain a certain perception of women’s behaviour and confiscate their right to freedom.