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Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Egypt court renews detention of TikTok influencer Haneen Hossam

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Thursday 21 May 2020
Haneen Hossam
Haneen Hossam (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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A Cairo court on Thursday renewed the detention of Egyptian TikTok influencer Haneen Hossam for 15 days pending investigations into charges including "inciting debauchery" and "human trafficking," a judicial source said.

Hossam, 20, was arrested on 21 April after posting a video on social media app TikTok encouraging women to publish live videos and talk with strangers in exchange for money.

In the video, Hossam, who has 1.2 million followers on the social media app, said she was seeking to recruit women to join a group she created on short video sharing platform Likee, with the purpose of promoting the platform. She offered them the chance to earn up to $3,000 for making "respectable" friendships with the app's followers.

The prosecutor-general's office said she has been working with an "organised criminal group" to lure young women to carry out acts "violating public morals," exploiting the economic problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Before her arrest, Hossam posted a video dismissing claims she was calling for "debauchery."

Hossam, a second-year archaeology student at Cairo University, could face expulsion, the university said last month.

Video-sharing platforms like TikTok have been gaining notoriety in Egypt in recent years, with content creators being condemned for making videos where they dress and behave in a way that many in the conservative country deem suggestive or inappropriate.

On 7 May, the Tiktok influencer was ordered released on bail of EGP 50,000 (approximately $3,150) but prosecutors appealed the court decision two days later and her detention was renewed for 15 days.

Thursday's decision is the second renewal of her detention since her arrest. 

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