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JUST IN: Egypt Court Makes A Swift U-Turn, Acquits TikTok Stars Jailed Over ‘Debauchery’

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An Egyptian appeals court has acquitted two young women imprisoned for “attacking society’s values” over videos they published on TikTok.

The women had been sentenced to two years in prison last July for “breaching public morals”.

“The court of appeal accepted the appeal filed by Haneen Hossam and Mawada al-Adham against their imprisonment … on charges of incitement to debauchery and attacking society’s values,” a court official said on Tuesday, asking not to be named.

Hossam, 20, was acquitted after being jailed for encouraging women among her 1.3 million subscribers to broadcast videos in exchange for money, while al-Adham’s two-year sentence for publishing indecent photos and videos was cancelled.

Hossam’s lawyer Hussein El Bakar told Thomson Reuters Foundation that her client, a student at Cairo University, fainted after hearing the verdict.

“Haneen went through a lot of psychological pressure because of being jailed for the past nine months,” he said, adding that Hossam would be freed although she is still facing charges of human trafficking with no date set for the ruling.

‘Social pressure’

Several women have been accused of “inciting debauchery” by challenging Egypt’s conservative social values, and the battle has moved online as the use of social media by young Egyptians surges.

Last year, Egyptian parliamentarians demanded the government suspend TikTok in the country, saying it promoted nudity and immorality.

Under Egypt’s 2018 cybercrime law, anyone running an account on the internet to commit a crime faces at least two years in jail and a fine of up to 300,000 Egyptian pounds ($19,206).

Two men who had been jailed for managing the women’s social media accounts were also acquitted on Tuesday, while a third was found guilty of managing al-Adham’s accounts and fined.

The court kept intact the fine that al-Adham was ordered to pay last year.

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