Journalist jailed for defaming men at Cairo bath house acquitted
An Egyptian journalist who was jailed for defaming a group of men after filming them at a bath house, has been acquitted.
Mona Iraqi faced charges of defamation and spreading false news after a “sting” on 26 men she accused of “perversions” for attending what she said was a gay bath house in Cairo has been sent to jail.
The men arrested were accused of “perversions” as journalist Mona Iraqi told police that the bathhouses were used for “group perversions”.
As part of the report, a picture was posted of dozens of men, mainly naked, being rounded up during the raid and put into vans.
The bathhouse owner was accused by prosecutors of facilitating the “practice, facilitate and incite debauchery.”
All 26 men were later acquitted.
It was announced last year that Iraqi – who has refused to apologise despite widespread criticism – had been sentenced to six months in jail.
She was also fined EGP10,000 ($1,277; €1,207) by a Cairo court for defamation and spreading false news.
This week a Cairo court accepted Iraqi’s appeal, and she was acquitted for all of the charges.
Despite the men’s acquittal, the men involved have say they have received rejection, ridicule and abuse from both strangers and loved ones.
One victim even attempted to burn himself to death because of the repercussions for being named in the lawsuit.
Gay rights activists say the past year has been one of the worst in the history of Egypt’s gay community.
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Although gay sex is not illegal there, debauchery laws are often used to prosecute those found having same-sex relations.
If found guilty of such crimes, those accused face up to 17 years in prison with or without hard labour and fines.
Reports have also suggested that Egyptian media had been told to increase anti-gay coverage, in order to distract from political stories.
Earlier in 2015, an Egyptian court ruled that gay foreigners can be deported from the country or banned from entry.
The court made ruling in a bid to “protect public interest and religious and social values”.
In March, seven trans people were reportedly arrested after being accused of debauchery, after police used fake dating profiles to lure them to a nightclub.