Egypt prosecution investigates spread of false news in the death of Arish university student

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Monday 4 Mar 2024

Public Prosecutor Mohamed Shawky ordered an investigation into the spread of false news and rumours related to the case of the death of 19-year-old university student Naira El-Zoghby on some social media platforms in a way that could disturb the public.

Prosecution building
Egyptian Public Prosecution building

 

The Public Prosecution assigned the Communications and Information Technology Department of the Ministry of Interior to conduct the necessary technical investigations of websites covering the incident, to determine whether any of them contained false news or spread any rumours that "could threaten public security and disturb social peace."

The Public Prosecution emphasized that freedom of opinion is guaranteed and that every individual has the right to express their opinion orally, in writing, through images, or other means of publication, as ensured by the Constitution.

However, the statement from the prosecution emphasized that this freedom must not jeopardize legally recognized interests such as societal security and peace.

“Disseminating false news or statements that could lead to criminal acts without consulting investigative authorities, particularly the Public Prosecution, and lacking evidence of their validity, is not permissible,” it said.

On Sunday, hashtag “#Naira’s_colleagues_say_the_truth” spread mainly on X social media network, formerly Twitter, and became a top trend in Arabic.

Posts claimed the two suspects in the case were innocent and someone else was involved in the tragic death of the student at the University of Al-Arish.

Several popular Egyptian news websites reported the claims of the hashtag, angering many users on X who saw it as an attempt to tarnish the reputation of the late student.

Hours following the spread of the hashtag and the rumours, the Prosecution ordered the detention of a man and a woman in question pending investigation for their alleged involvement in blackmailing the Arish University student.

Naira, a veterinary medicine student at Arish University, reportedly ended her own life after being threatened by two of her colleagues who intended to expose personal information about her.

In a statement on Sunday, the prosecution revealed that the two individuals in custody are accused of writing threats to expose private matters concerning the victim, accompanied by a demand.

Additionally, the prosecution charged them with violating Naira's personal life, which is considered a misdemeanour.

On Saturday, the Public Prosecution announced reopening their investigation into the death of El-Zoghby, ordering her body exhumed for autopsy nearly six days after she was buried.

The decision was taken following media and social media reports that the young woman might have been a victim of blackmail by two of her colleagues, according to a statement by the prosecution. 

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