Egypt court renews detention of woman jailed over torture claims in BBC report

Ahram Online , Thursday 17 Jan 2019

A still image of Mona Mahmoud taken from the controversial BBC video report

A Cairo criminal court accepted on Thursday an appeal by the prosecution against a previous court decision to release Mona Mahmoud, also known as Um Zubaida, who was jailed for spreading false news.

The court has renewed her detention for 45 days.

Um Zubaida made headlines after a 2018 interview with the BBC where she said that her daughter had been tortured and disappeared by security services.

On Tuesday, a criminal court ordered Um Zubaida's release after nearly one year in detention on charges including "publishing and broadcasting false news that could harm the country's national interests" and joining an illegal group, in reference to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

The charges arise from the woman's claims during an interview with the BBC that her daughter, Zubaida, had not been seen since 2017 after being apprehended by security forces, and that she was tortured in detention during her previous stint in custody.

Her account was part of a short documentary and online report by the BBC on what it said were cases of forced disappearances and torture carried out by Egyptian security forces.

Um Zubaida's daughter appeared shortly after the BBC’s report and denied being tortured or abducted.

Egyptian authorities have described the BBC report as full of lies and unsubstantiated allegations, prompting the State Information Service (SIS) to urge officials to boycott the public broadcaster until an apology is published.

The BBC was briefly taken to court, facing a threat of having its bureau shut down in Cairo; however, the Cairo Court of Urgent Matters ruled that it lacks jurisdiction over the matter in June 2018.

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