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Content creator Mawada al-Adham, 3 others sentenced to 6 yrs on human trafficking charges

Content creator Mawada al-Adham is set to serve a six-year prison sentence after the Court of Cassation upheld on Saturday the ruling against her and others on “human trafficking” charges, bringing an end to three years of prosecution.

Adham was first arrested in 2020, during a wave of arrests that targeted female content creators on short video-sharing applications such as TikTok and Likee. Adham, fellow creator and peer Haneen Hossam, and three local employees of Likee were tried on charges of infringing on “family values,” before the case was dropped in January 2021.

Within days, however, they were all referred again to trial in a new case pressing charges of human trafficking and child exploitation and were sentenced to six years in prison in June.

Adham and the three Likee employees, Mohamed Abdel Hamid Zaki, Mohamed Alaa Eddin Morsi, and Ahmed Sameh Attia, appealed the sentences, gaining support from the investigating prosecution, but the Cassation Court stood by the conviction, lawyer Hani Sameh, a member of her defense team, told Mada Masr.

Both a report by the prosecution and statements from Adham’s defense team argued that the human trafficking charges were based on unsubstantiated police reports, according to Sameh.

Now that the verdict is final, Sameh continued, relatives of the four defendants have no remaining routes to appeal the sentence, except pleading for a presidential pardon.

The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced the four defendants to six years in prison in June 2021, while Adham’s peer, Hossam received the maximum possible sentence of ten years since she was tried in absentia. All of the defendants were fined LE200,000 each.

Adham was convicted of the human trafficking charges on the basis of the appearance of two minors in two of her videos, as well as the appearance of a number of children in another video, which called for donations to a charity-funded hospital, The Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357. Hossam, for her part, was charged for inviting other female users to join Likee in order to make profit by live streaming.

At the end of January, the Cassation Court’s prosecution recommended that the court accept the appeal against the criminal court’s sentences for the four defendants, asserting in a report, said Sameh, that there was no evidence that the crime of human trafficking had been committed in the process of creating the videos in question and that the appearance of minors in the videos does not constitute exploitation.

Hossam was acquitted in January 2021, and a two-year sentence was canceled for the four others, on charges of “infringing on family values and principles and spreading immorality through video clips on TikTok and Likee.” The four were still fined LE300,000.

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