Egyptian woman sentenced to 3 years in TikTok video case

April 19, 2022 GMT

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court has sentenced a woman to three years in prison after her retrial conviction for human trafficking in a case that involved girls dancing in videos on TikTok.

Haneen Hossam, a social media influencer, was arrested in 2020. Her case was seen by critics as part of a crackdown on self expression by government officials in conservative Egypt.

Prosecutors had accused her of promoting human trafficking by allegedly exploiting minor girls to gain material benefits with dance videos. It wasn’t clear how the videos were related to human trafficking.

Hossam, in her early 20s, had been sentenced to 10 years in prison but a Cairo Criminal Court judge Monday reduced it to three years. She was also fined 200,000 Egyptian pounds ($10,800).

Monday’s ruling is final and can’t be appealed.

The charges partly stemmed from Hossam’s invitation to girls to join another social media platform, Likee, claiming they could generate more money from their videos.

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Hossam and other women, including TikTok influencer Mawada Eladhm, were first sentenced in July 2020 to two years in prison on convictions for “violating the values and principles of the Egyptian family,” inciting debauchery and promoting human trafficking.

An appeals court overturned the sentences and both women were released.

But prosecutors appealed the decision and accused them of human trafficking. The Cairo Criminal Court subsequently sentenced Hossam in June to 10 years in prison while Eladhm got a six-year-sentence.

Hossam appealed that ruling and she was retried by a different judge, who on Monday reduced her sentence to three years.

Hossam and Eladhm vaulted to TikTok fame in recent years, amassing millions of followers for their video snippets set to catchy Egyptian club-pop tracks.

In their respective 15-second clips, the women wear makeup, pose in cars, dance in kitchens and joke in skits — familiar and seemingly tame content for the platform.