Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2012

Morocco: 2

Mohamed al-Dawas, freelance
Imprisoned: September 5, 2011

Authorities arrested al-Dawas, a critical journalist who wrote for the blog Al-Fnidaq Online, in the northern city of Fnidaq, according to news reports. On September 22, a court in Tetouan sentenced the blogger to a 19-month prison sentence on drug trafficking charges, defense lawyer Abdel al-Sadiq al-Bushtawy told CPJ.

Al-Bushtawy said his client denied the drug trafficking allegations, which the defense considered retaliation for al-Dawas' critical writing. Al-Fnidaq Online features the work of several journalists who write about local government corruption. A report by the French news outlet France 24 quoted several local journalists as saying they, too, believed the arrest to be retaliation for al-Dawas' critical writing.

Al-Bushtawy told CPJ that the defense team was not given an adequate opportunity to present its case. In protest, the defense team withdrew from what it deemed unfair proceedings, and the court tried al-Dawas without counsel. In late year, an appeals court upheld his sentence, his lawyer said.

In October 2012, al-Dawas was transferred to Okasha Prison in the northern province of Taounate, al-Bushtawy said.

Mohamed Sokrate, freelance
Imprisoned: May 29, 2012

Sokrate, a prominent blogger, was arrested by security forces while leaving an Internet café in Marrakech. In June, a local court sentenced him to two years in prison on charges of drug possession and trafficking, according to news reports.

Sokarte is known for his criticism of the monarchy and political Islam, which is widely believed to be the reason for his imprisonment, news reports said. Moroccan authorities have a record of filing trumped-up charges of drug possession to imprison critical journalists, CPJ research shows. Authorities briefly arrested Sokrate's father and brother as a way of pressuring the blogger to sign a false confession, according to regional press freedom groups.

Sokrate was also a member of the February 20 youth group, which had organized pro-reform protests in Morocco in 2011.

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.