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Egypt journalist who posted Facebook meme mocking Sisi gets five-year sentence for 'cannabis possession' Open in fullscreen

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Egypt journalist who posted Facebook meme mocking Sisi gets five-year sentence for 'cannabis possession'

Asmaa Zidan was handed down the lengthy sentence on Saturday [Twitter]

Date of publication: 11 February, 2018

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ِAn Egyptian court has sentenced a journalist to a five-year jail sentence for 'cannabis possession' after she was arrested last year for posting an internet meme critical of Sisi.
ِAn Egyptian court has sentenced a journalist to a five-year jail sentence for "cannabis possession" after she was arrested last year for posting an internet meme critical of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

A Cairo criminal court handed down the lengthy sentence to Asmaa Zidan on Saturday for possessing a "hashish cigarette," local media and activists reported.

Zidan was arrested last October and accused of "insulting the president" and "spreading fake photos to harm the country's reputation", according to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

The rights group said that the journalist had been subjected to physical abuse by police during her detention.

Zidan, who wrote for pan-Arab daily al-Quds al-Arabi and local news website Fekra, was arrested over an internet meme making fun of Sisi that she had posted on her personal Facebook page, Spanish daily El Periodico reported last year.

The offending post reportedly mocked the president for comments he made last September, calling on Egyptians to donate their spare change to bankroll state projects.

Rights lawyer Karim Abdelrady strongly condemned the court's "unprecedented" ruling against Zidan in an online statement on Saturday.

"Zidan has got five years for the trumped-up political charge of possessing a joint. This is the first time in my life that I have seen a ruling like this for drug possession," he said.

"Drug dealers are usually found innocent and in the rare cases that they are found guilty they get no more than three-year sentences. Such injustice and immorality," Abdelrady added.

Sisi successfully silenced all forms of political opposition during his first four-year term.

In 2014 he stormed to victory in the presidential election, having led the military a year before in ousting the North African country's first freely elected leader, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has said Egypt is one of "the world's biggest prisons for journalists".

It ranked Egypt 161 out of 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index last year.

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