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Youm7 opens internal investigation into sexual assault allegations against prominent writer

Prompted by a legal complaint filed by Youm7 journalist May al-Shamy with police, accusing a prominent figure at the newspaper of sexual assault, an internal investigation commenced on Sunday, according to her lawyer Intesar al-Saeed.

Saeed told Mada Masr that the legal affairs department of the Egyptian Media Group (EMG), which owns Youm7, heard the Shamy’s testimony on Sunday, several days after the journalist filed her complaint at the Dokki Police Station. The lawyer said that EMG only initiated its own internal proceedings after the prosecution opened an investigation into the legal complaint.

The newspaper refused to decide whether to suspend the person accused of assault until after the internal investigation is concluded, Saeed added.

Anwar Rifai, a legal consultant at EMG, which is owned by Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, confirmed to Mada Masr that an internal investigation is currently underway, that statements will be heard from both Shamy and the individual being accused, and that the results of the internal investigation will be published.

On Friday, Shamy filed a legal complaint (12599/2018) at the Dokki Police Station, in which she accused a prominent figure at the newspaper of sexually assaulting her, both physically and verbally, on several occasions in the past month, Saeed told Mada Masr. The complaint lists the individual as “one of her employers at the newspaper for which she works.” The complaint was subsequently referred to the public prosecution, which heard Shamy’s testimony on Friday and those of two other witnesses the following day.

The journalist requested that several of her colleagues be questioned by the prosecution as witnesses, as well as Youm7 Editor in Chief Khaled Salah, and the man she accused of assaulting her, according to Saeed. The lawyer told Mada Masr that Shamy has testimonies and evidence implicating the individual, which she will also submit to the prosecution.

After she filed the complaint, there was a wave of social media support for Shamy, with social media users sharing the hashtag #supportmayelshamy in both English and Arabic to express solidarity with the journalist.

In addition to the legal proceedings, similar charges were also brought before the Supreme Media Regulatory Council, Saeed told Mada Masr. Shamy accused an individual at Youm7 of sexually assaulting her, and TV presenter Ahmed Moussa of unprofessional conduct.

Shamy likewise filed two complaints with the Journalists Syndicate, according to board member Amr Badr. The first is against the same prominent figure she accused of sexually assaulting her, Badr said, and the second is against Moussa, who Shamy claimed showed bias against her when discussing the issue on the Saturday episode of his show “Ala Mas’ouleyety,” (My Responsibility) which airs on the privately owned Sada al-Balad.

During the show, Moussa presented a Facebook post which he said belonged to the individual accused of assaulting Shamy, in which the individual denies the charges leveled against him. Moussa, however, did not reach out to Shamy for her comments on the case.

The presenter also spoke about an organized campaign targeting the man being accused, orchestrated by his political opponents with the intent of damaging his reputation. Moussa claimed that those involved in the campaign included members of the Muslim Brotherhood, criminals, members of the April 6 Youth Movement, and activists funded by “the fifth column,” adding that it was initiated by Qatar and Turkey.

The following day, Shamy issued a statement on her personal Facebook page, asserting that her case has “no political dimensions,” adding that she refuses to allow her case, which she said is a criminal act punishable by the Penal Code, to be exploited politically.

In her statement, Shamy said that her case is an issue of women’s rights, and that she was personally harmed by Moussa’s on-air comments, adding that they were also unlawful. “What Moussa said legally infringes upon the investigation of the public prosecution, and affected the ongoing proceedings,” she added.

The Journalists Syndicate board is set to review Shamy’s complaint regarding her colleague at Youm7, as she is a syndicate member, after which Badr expects an investigation will be conducted and the alleged perpetrator questioned. According to its bylaws, the syndicate has the authority to discipline journalists found guilty of misconduct or acts that harm a journalist’s reputation.

*Note: This piece has been edited since it was originally published.

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