BEIRUT: Mona Mazbouh, a 24-year-old Lebanese woman who claimed harassment in a video that went viral over social media, will be released from an Egyptian prison and return to Lebanon on Wednesday, Hassan Bazzi, one of the lawyers who closely worked on Mazbouh’s case, told Annahar.
The final court sentence, issued on Sunday, was one year behind bars, with a suspension of execution against Mazbouh, Bazzi said.
She will also have to pay a fine of 30,000 Egyptian Pounds.
Mazbouh, who was arrested at Cairo airport in June after insulting Egyptians and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, as the accusations state, had previously posted a video mentioning angrily that she was harassed in Egypt.
After a huge outrage from Egyptians, Mazbouh posted another video in which she apologized to Egyptian people, saying that “she loves Egypt and that not all Egyptians are harassers.”
Her apology video, however, didn’t stop Egyptian authorities from arresting her.
Her father posted a video apologizing for his daughter’s remarks, and asking the Lebanese state to ensure her return to Lebanon, since “she has mental health problems.” He has also spoken about “wanting to end his life if no serious action is taken regarding this case.”
Then, a TV interview surfaced, in which Mazbouh’s father appears with lawyer and human rights activist Hassan Bazzi. Around a month and a half ago, Bazzi formed a legal team, in collaboration with a group of Lebanese activists, including former parliamentary elections candidate Neamat Bader Din.
In August, as Bazzi told Annahar, the group of activists visited President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Minister of Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil, and the Egyptian Ambassador in Lebanon.
“Egypt’s ambassador didn't promise anything but he listened to our concerns,” Bazzi said.
He added that “her father, who joined the team throughout all the visits, was apologizing all the time, and the main demands were for the Lebanese authorities to contact the Egyptian authorities, to reduce her prison term and to bring her back to Lebanon if possible.”
He also said that “many politicians did not know about Mona’s case until we contacted them about it.”
The reason the Court of Appeal in Cairo reduced the sentence from eight years, then to three years, to end up with one year, on condition of suspension of execution, is that “Mazbouh suffers from mental health problems, and she was not the one who uploaded the video.”
As Bazzi said, “we succeeded along with lawyer Soha Ismail from Lebanon and lawyer Imad Kamal from Egypt, in proving to the court that Mazbouh had sent the video to someone, yet they were the ones to upload it on social media platforms.”
The legal defenses were presented in front of the court last Monday by Lebanese lawyer Ismail, according to Bazzi. “Based on that, the judge decreased the sentence to one year, and a fine of 30,000 Egyptian Pounds.”
Mazbouh will be handed to the Egyptian Internal security forces on Monday, and will be released from prison on Tuesday.
Bazzi exclusively told Annahar that he expects Mazbouh to arrive in Beirut " on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. aboard the MEA flight.”
“I expect that the Lebanese Embassy in Egypt will pay the penalty and reserve Mazbouh’s flight to Lebanon,” he said Sunday night, adding that “they have been very helpful in the whole process.”
On Monday, however, Bazzi told Annahar that Mazbouh's mother paid the penalty "because she is really eager about her daughter's release."
The initial court sentence, which was eight years, was based on three years for insulting the Islamic religion, three years for insulting the Egyptian people, and another two years for insulting the Egyptian President.
Youm7, one of Egypt’s leading media outlets published an article on June 27 quoting Mona al Masri, Mazbouh’s mother, saying that one of the rumours about her daughter was a video claiming that she was running away from prison.
“My daughter is attached spiritually to Egypt, and she will never run away from this country,” the article quoted al Masri saying.
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