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Egyptian Broadcaster Let Off The Hook For Televising A Bathhouse Raid

Mona Iraqi was previously sentenced to six months in jail for her role in sensationalizing the arrest of 26 men on charges of homosexuality.

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A Cairo appeals court overturned a judgement on Monday against Egyptian broadcaster in a defamation case brought for her role in publicizing the arrest of 26 men on charges of homosexuality from a bath house in December 2014, local media reported.

The broadcaster, named Mona Iraqi, featured the bathhouse in a television program purporting to tell "the whole story of the dens for spreading AIDS in Egyptā€¯ that aired over the course of three nights following the raid. Iraqi claimed to have alerted police to "gay sex parties" being held in the bathhouse, and then posted pictures of the men being dragged naked from the bathhouse during the raid on her Facebook page.

The arrests were the most high-profile in a crackdown on LGBT rights that began after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took power the previous year. Human rights advocates say more than 200 people have been arrested in widely publicized the sweeps that began after Sisi ousted a Muslim Brotherhood president from office with help from the military.

Human rights advocates were stunned when it acquitted the 26 men in a trial last January; no Egyptian court has ever acquitted men accused of homosexuality in a high profile case. This was a stunning rebuke for Iraqi, who was condemned for her role in the raids even by editors at outlets that also have also sensationalized anti-LGBT arrests.

Before Monday's ruling, Iraqi was facing six months in jail and a fine equal to about $1,300 after a lower court found her guilty of defamation last November.

J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211

Contact J. Lester Feder at lester.feder@buzzfeed.com.

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