TikToker Hossam released, Adham still detained as both hit with human trafficking charges
Haneen Hossam and Mowada al-Adham

TikTok creator Haneen Hossam walked free from a police station in the Cairo neighborhood of Shubra in the early hours of Tuesday morning, after a court ordered her set free on bail after more than 10 months in detention, according to her lawyer Ahmed Moussa.

Fellow content creator Mowada al-Adham remains behind bars, however, after a court on the North Cairo circuit renewed her detention for 45 days.

Both women were arrested amid a crackdown on creators sharing content on the Likee and TikTok applications that saw at least 10 women arrested last year.

Hossam was arrested on April 20 after posting a short clip telling her followers about a job offer to make videos on the app Likee. Adham was arrested on May 14 after posting a video on TikTok. 

Hossam and Adham were initially sentenced in July 2020 in the economic courts to two years in jail and fines of LE300,000 apiece, following an initial conviction for charges of “violating family values” and disseminating material that “violates public morals,” in the first ruling of its kind. Mohamed Abdel Hamid Zaki, Mohamed Aladdin Ahmed and Ahmed Sameh Ateya, who are employees of subsidiary companies belonging to the Singapore-based BIGO Technology company that owns Likee and who were accused of collaborating with the women to manage their online accounts, faced the same sentences. 

However, a January 12 ruling from the economic appeals court, of which Mada Masr obtained a copy, acquitted Hossam of the morality charges. Though she was initially accused on the basis of a short video clip in which she told her followers on the Likee platform about a job offer to make content for the app, which was interpreted as “incitement to immorality,” Hossam was deemed by judges to have specified clearly that the position on offer was work, and to have given appropriate warning in the clip against departing from public morals.

As for Adham, after reviewing videos of her posted on Likee, the court stipulated that the content “was presented in a way that violates family principles and values,” but decided to withdraw the imprisonment sentence and implement the fine only on the basis of “the defendant’s young age.” Fines were also upheld for Mohamed Abdel Hamid Zaki, Mohamed Aladdin Ahmed and Ahmed Sameh Ateya.

Yet just a day after the release orders, the Public Prosecution pressed new human trafficking charges against both Hossam and Adham in mid-January. A court subsequently ordered both women to be released again, but the prosecution appealed the decisions. 

Hani Sameh, a lawyer working on the women’s defense team, told Mada Masr that the January 26 order for Hossam’s release was upheld the following day at an Abbasiya court in the North Cairo circuit, while a separate court in Abdeen accepted the appeal against Adham’s release the following day, extending her detention for another 45 days.

According to Sameh, bail of LE5,000 was posted for Hossam on Saturday, and the procedures for her release were completed over the ensuing days until she was released this morning.

With regard to the new human trafficking charges that both women face, Sameh said he has applied to the North Cairo Court of First Instance to appoint an independent investigative judge on the basis of the earlier economic court ruling, which found that the earlier investigation into Adham and Hossam was baseless.


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