Another Critic Of Egypt's Government Gets Hit With 'Fake News' Charges

from the thanks-trump dept

Fake news is a handy term deployed by authoritarians to criticize speech they don't like. Since it's such a malleable term, it's been co-opted by a handful of foreign governments as the basis for new laws. We don't have a fake news law here, fortunately, but it's Trump's frequent use of the term that has given it worldwide traction.

Egypt's "fake news" laws comes bundled with lots of other speech-censoring add-ons. Earlier this year, an Egyptian journalist was charged with "spreading false news" and "misuse of a social media account"[!] for exposing state police brutality. The government's evidence against the journalist included account suspensions by US social media companies quite possibly triggered by takedown requests the government had issued.

Egyptian human rights activist Amal Fathy is the latest victim of the "fake news" law, which was tacked onto a sweeping "cybercrime" bill that gives the Egyptian government more direct control of citizens' access to internet services.

Here's how Fathy fell victim to the new cyberlaws:

Last May, Amal Fathy posted a 12-minute video on Facebook in which she described how she had been sexually harassed while visiting her bank.

She also criticised the government for not doing enough to protect women.

She was arrested two days later, and charged with attempting to harm the Egyptian state and possessing indecent material.

Fathy received a two-year suspended sentence and a $560 fine for criticizing her government. Her actions were described by the government as "spreading fake news." The word "news" apparently also covers opinions, which aligns it with the US President's deployment of the term.

Fathy won't be the last person punished for criticizing the Egyptian government. The law is working just the way it was always supposed to, even if it was pitched to residents as something necessary to counter national security threats.

Egypt's government now has even more power to block internet services and directly oversee any social media accounts with large numbers of followers. Critics of the government aren't threatening the security of the nation, but the government is willing to overlook the letter of the law to pursue its true, dissent-crushing spirit.


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Oct 2018 @ 10:47am

    This also has something else in common with the Trump administration: the continued degradation and humiliation of women who criticize the government/the people who run it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Barry Farkle, 12 Oct 2018 @ 11:14am

    Well, it's better than being murdered and dismembered by Saudis.

    Reporter-ish person named Kashoggi, a Saudi critic, has apparently been lured to Saudi Consulate, definitely went, fiance has video, and disappeared. US has stated intercept messages. Turks believe killed and dismembered, state two planes flew 15 agents in.

    Point is, that major US / Israel ally is credibly accused of vastly worse, hot current item to draw clicks, but it'll never be mentioned here, just cherry-picked little items -- that just happen to against an enemy of Israel.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Oct 2018 @ 11:32am

      Re: Well, it's better than being murdered and dismembered by Saudis.

      The issue with this theory is that Kashoggi's situation isn't really related to tech issues or tech related laws, the activist in question here's situation is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Oct 2018 @ 11:34am

        In fairness, the Kashoggi situation is tangentially related to the kinds of free speech issues that Techdirt covers here on a regular basis. That said: If Techdirt did not publish an article about that situation, I would be neither surprised nor disappointed.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Baron von Robber, 12 Oct 2018 @ 11:51am

        Re: Re: Well, it's better than being murdered and dismembered by Saudis.

        You need to go to the top of the page and read where it says, ....

        "Techdirt Free Speech, on Techdirt"

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 15 Oct 2018 @ 2:38am

        Re: Re: Well, it's better than being murdered and dismembered by Saudis.

        The alleged murder was apparently captured on his Apple watch.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Oct 2018 @ 11:32am

      Three things.

      1. You have no idea what Techdirt will or will not mention until it either lets a major story pass by without mention or writes an article on said story.

      2. We can care about both the apparent murder of a journalist in Saudi Arabia and the attempt to silence a government critic in Egypt. Caring about one does not preclude caring about the other.

      3. You have offered no proof that the posting of this story has anything to do with Tim Cushing’s opinions on Israel, which means such an assertion is bullshit until and unless you can prove otherwise.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 12 Oct 2018 @ 11:53am

      Re: Well, it's better than being Trolled

      1) Please link to your blog where you cover the important issues Mike misses. Thanks!

      2) We get it, you hate the Jews. Thanks for reminding us!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2018 @ 6:31am

      Re: Well, it's better than being murdered and dismembered by Saudis.

      "Point is, that major US / Israel ally is credibly .."

      What does this have to do with the article?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Oct 2018 @ 12:47am

    Just as planned

    It is no accident that Donald Trump gets along better with dictators than democratically elected presidents and prime ministers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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