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Egypt renews detention of woman in BBC report over 'false news'

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CAIRO (Reuters) – A Cairo criminal court renewed on Thursday the detention of a woman interviewed by the BBC in a report critical of the country’s human rights record that sparked controversy.

The woman, whom the public prosecutor had identified as Mona Mohamed, said in the report that security forces had forcibly disappeared her daughter in 2017, causing a strong backlash from Egyptian authorities.

The daughter was then interviewed on a nightly talk show days later where she denied the claim. Reuters was not able to independently verify either account.

The court ordered the renewal of the woman’s pre-trial detention for 45 days. It had ordered Mohamed’s release on Tuesday, but the public prosecution lodged an appeal, which the court accepted.

Egypt’s government press centre had said at the time the BBC report was “fraught with lies” and called for a boycott of the British broadcaster. The BBC had said it was aware of the reports about the story and the government’s position. “We stand by the integrity of our reporting teams,” it said at the time.

Egypt had stepped up a crackdown on media outlets it deemed to be publishing reports which might harm national security. The crackdown came before presidential election last March, in which President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi won re-election virtually unopposed.

Rights groups say that during Sisi’s presidency, which began a year after he led the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in 2013, there is a growing crackdown on dissent.

(Reporting by Yousef Saba, editing by Larry King)

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