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Egypt TV host faces trial for false bathhouse accusations

February 24, 2015

An Egyptian television presenter whose undercover report from a public bathhouse landed 26 men in court for “debauchery” is herself to face trial for falsely accusing them, an official said Tuesday.

The men were arrested December 7 in a night-time raid on the Cairo bathhouse after Mona Iraqi tipped off police, claiming it had become a “den of male sex”.

Iraqi filmed the raid, including footage of the near-naked men, and it was broadcast days later on private satellite channel Al-Qahira Wel Nas.

Rights groups criticised Iraqi over the programme, which she said was only part of a “series uncovering male sex trafficking and the spread of AIDS in Egypt,” and not targeting homosexuality.

The men, including the bathhouse owner and four employees, were tried for “debauchery” but cleared for lack of evidence showing any homosexual acts.

Such activity is not expressly outlawed in Egypt, but gays have previously been charged with debauchery in the deeply conservative Muslim society.

The prosecution said Iraqi will face two trials — one for defaming the men and spreading false news and one on whether to ban her programme.

The defamation trial opens on April 4 and the other on March 1, a prosecution official said, adding his office pressed charges after some of the men filed a complaint.

Activists suspect President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s regime is targeting homosexuals as dozens of people have been arrested since November 2013 for debauchery and prostitution.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.