Court releases blogger who criticised king
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||11 September 2008|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, Court releases blogger who criticised king, 11 September 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48cf5d1119.html [accessed 22 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Reporters Without Borders hails today's decision by an Agadir court to provisionally release blogger Mohamed Erraji pending the outcome of his appeal against the two-year prison sentence he received on 8 September for criticising the king in an online article. Erraji had been held in Inzegane prison, near Agadir.
"We are relieved by Erraji's provisional release," Reporters Without Borders said. "The Moroccan judicial system must now hear his appeal in a proper manner. We hope the outcome will be fair. Erraji is not guilty of insulting the king. We hope the court will not uphold the prison sentence."
Erraji's lawyer files the request for a provisional release two days ago. He told Reporters Without Borders: "His trial was conducted badly. The police, the prosecutors and the local authorities imprisoned Mohamed Erraji in order to dispose of the case. His provisional release is the result of strong pressure. The decision came from a very high level."
The two-year prison sentence and a fine of 5,000 dirhams (430 euros) were imposed on Erraji at the end of a summary trial on 8 September. He was found guilty of "disrespect for the king" under article 41 of the Moroccan press law. A court will begin hearing his appeal on 16 September.
09.09 - Blogger gets two years in prison for online article critical of king
Reporters Without Borders condemns the two-year prison sentence and fine of 5,000 dirhams (430 euros) which a court in the southern city of Agadir passed yesterday on blogger Mohamed Erraji for an article criticising King Mohammed that he wrote for the Moroccan news website Hespress (hespress.com).
Arrested on 4 September, Erraji is being held in Inzegane prison, near Agadir. Reporters Without Borders voices its support for his family, which has decided to appeal.
"This decision is unfair," the press freedom organisation said. "Erraji was given a summary trial for which he had no time to find a lawyer and was unable to defend himself. He is the first Moroccan blogger to be tried and convicted for an article posted online. This verdict is worthy of the most totalitarian states. We call for his release."
Aged 32, Erraji was convicted of "disrespect for the king" under article 41 of the Moroccan press law for writing an article entitled "King encourages dependency on handouts" that criticised Mohammed VI's custom of granting favours (http://hespress.com/article-erraji.html).
Erraji is Hespress's Agadir correspondent and writes regularly for the site. He has also kept a blog called "Mohamed Erraji's world" (http://almassae.maktoobblog.com/) since March 2007 in which he writes about political and social issues.
He does not belong to any political party and has never taken part in a demonstration. He does not use a pseudonym and always posts his blog entries and web articles under his own name.
"The Moroccan blogosphere is known for being dynamic, so this is big step backwards for the kingdom," Reporters Without Borders added. "First Fouad Mourtada was convicted for creating a spoof profile on the social networking website Facebook. Now the authorities are using Erraji as an example to discourage bloggers from criticising the king online. It is outrageous."
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