Egypt court orders release of mother held over ´false news´

An Egyptian court on Tuesday ordered the release of a woman accused of spreading “false statements” by telling the BBC her daughter had been forcibly disappeared.

Mona Mahmud Mohammad has been in custody since March 2018 over accusations that she had spread false news and joined an illegal organisation.

An official at Cairo Criminal Court said Tuesday that the court had ordered the release of Mohammad, “who is accused of spreading false news over the detention of her daughter and of belonging to a terrorist group”.

The BBC report was aired in February last year and detailed numerous allegations of people being “jailed, tortured or disappeared” in Egypt.

It included the story of a young woman whose mother, named as “Um Zubeida”, said she had been the victim of a forced disappearance.

The daughter later appeared on a local television show saying she had run away from her mother, married and had a child.

Egypt´s prosecution office subsequently said it had tasked lawyers with monitoring news outlets and social media to “take necessary measures under criminal law” against “false statements, news and rumours that harm public safety”.

The state security prosecution said in March it had arrested a woman in connection with the case.

Following the court´s order, the official did not detail when Mohammad will be released.

The case it not closed, as she must report to police twice a week and still risks being put on trial.

Egypt´s State Information Service, which regulates foreign media, had called on the British broadcaster to retract its report or face a government boycott.

The BBC said it stood by “the integrity of our reporting teams”.

Rights groups have accused Egyptian authorities of carrying out a widespread crackdown on dissent.

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