Mona Iraqi (top right) filmed the men as they were being arrested
An Egyptian court has explained why it acquitted disgraced journalist Mona Iraqi of spreading false claims about 26 men arrested at an alleged gay bathhouse.
Iraqi was slammed for targeting the gay community by broadcasting images of the humiliated near-naked men being herded into police trucks following a December 2014 raid on the Cairo bathhouse.
She reportedly claimed to have tipped-off the morality police to the alleged “gay orgy den.” She posted photos of the incident on her Facebook page and boasted about taking part in the investigation of the venue, which she described as a den of “abnormalities” and “collective perversion.”
Iraqi also said that the men were “caught in the act during a group sex party.” The men were ultimately acquitted of all charges.
She was criticised for a lack of ethics and was accused of being complicit in destroying people’s lives for the sake of ratings. Iraqi received a jail sentence of six months for defamation in November last year but was then released after winning an appeal in January.
On Wednesday, the court explained its decision by ruling that her report was “journalistic work that serves public interest” and said that she did not intend to defame anyone.
According to aswatmasriya.com, the court also found that she aimed to “raise awareness” about the spread of HIV in Egypt. Iraqi has since denied that she reported the bathhouse to the police ahead of the raid.
While homosexuality is not specifically outlawed in Egypt, gay people are often targeted and jailed through immorality or public indecency laws. The Egyptian authorities are believed to use social media, including dating apps, to track down and arrest gay men.