Morocco: 4 years in prison for a journalist for insulting the king

The Court of First Instance of Salé in Rabat.

( Drawing).

AFP/Archivos

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Moroccan activist journalist Rabie Al Ablaq was sentenced on Monday (April 25th) for insulting the king.

According to Human Rights Watch, he was being prosecuted for publishing two videos.

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The first video was released on September 21 on Facebook, the second a month and a half later on YouTube.

In these two videos, the activist calls

Mohamed VI and the new Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch “

billionaires ”.

He questions the origin of their wealth and openly wonders if they had not "

robbed the people

".

Rabie Al Ablaq was summoned several times last month to the Al Hoceima police station to explain his videos.

He was charged in the wake of "public failure to respect and reverence due to the person of the king".

Indictment followed Monday, April 25 by a sentence of 4 years in prison and 20,000 dirhams, or 1,900 euros, fine for insulting the king.

His lawyer said he was shocked by this verdict.

"

Penalizing peaceful criticism of those in power is a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression

," Human Rights Watch said last week.

The NGO which today qualifies this condemnation as a “

scandal

”.

Rabie Al Ablaq will thus return to prison.

He who has already spent two years behind bars for his support for the Hirak protests, which rocked the country in 2016 and 2017. The activist was released in 2020 after receiving a royal pardon.

His lawyer has announced his intention to appeal against this conviction.

4 years in prison for Rabie al-Ablaq for "crime of lese Majesty", a medieval law which has disappeared for centuries in democracies.

Yet #Morocco claims to be one... Last week, @HRW called for the charges to be dropped - to no avail https://t.co/rW4CVJFCmB

— Ahmed Benchemsi (@AhmedBenchemsi) April 26, 2022

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