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Egyptian court sentences activist to jail for 'false news' over sexual harassment video

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Egyptian court sentences activist to jail for 'false news' over sexual harassment video

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By Amina Ismail

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court has sentenced an activist to two years in jail over a video she posted on social media criticising the government for failing to protect women against sexual harassment and over poor living conditions, her lawyer said.

Amal Fathy, a member of the now banned April 6 youth movement which played a role in 2011 protests that forced President Hosni Mubarak from office, was also fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($562), her lawyer Tarek Abuel Nasr and state news agency MENA said.

She was charged with spreading false news that threatened national security and disseminating a video that violated public decency. She also faces other charges including joining an illegal group.

"This is injustice, unjustified and incomprehensible. We have provided all the evidence to prove that she didn't spread false news," said her husband, Mohamed Lotfy, a human rights activist and executive director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF).

"When a woman is subjected to sexual harassment and gets sentenced to two years and fined then this means we are telling all Egyptian women 'shut your mouths ...if you don't want to go to prison'."

Government officials were not immediately available to comment.

Fathy will appeal the ruling, her lawyer said.

Rights groups have repeatedly criticised Egypt's human rights situation, saying conditions have continued to deteriorate under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who came to power in 2013 after the army overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Morsi following protests against his rule.

Seventeen U.N. human rights experts criticised Egypt on Friday for its use of anti-terrorism laws to detain activists fighting for women's rights and against graft, torture and extra-judicial killings.

Fathy was detained in May, days after she posted a 12-minute video in which she expressed her anger at poor public services at a local bank, heavy traffic, sexual harassment by a taxi driver and over a general deterioration in living conditions.

At the time a security source said Fathy had been detained over a complaint that she had insulted the Egyptian state through an offensive social media posting.

Egypt passed a law in July giving the state powers to block social media accounts and penalise journalists held to be publishing fake news.

(Additional reporting by Mohamed Abdellah and Ahmed Tolba; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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