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Morocco jails journalist for four years over 'Facebook post calling for protests' Open in fullscreen

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Morocco jails journalist for four years over 'Facebook post calling for protests'

The Hirak demonstrations broke out in late 2016 in Morocco's neglected northern Rif region [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 February, 2018

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A Moroccan court has sentenced a blogger and founder of a news website critical of the government to four years in prison for 'promoting terrorism' and 'inciting dissidence'.
A Moroccan court has sentenced a blogger and founder of a news website critical of the government to four years in prison for "promoting terrorism" and "inciting dissidence".

A court dealing with "terrorism affairs" in the capital Rabat handed down the sentence to Abdelkabir al-Hor on Friday, local news website Hespress reported.

Hor founded the news website Rassd Maroc, which has been critical in its coverage of the Moroccan government.

Hor's lawyer Mohammed Aghnaje said he believed the reason behind the harsh ruling was posts published last year on Rassd's Facebook page urging people to demonstrate with the al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or "Popular Movement".

The Hirak demonstrations broke out in late 2016, calling for jobs, unemployment and an end to graft in Morocco's neglected northern Rif region.

Aghnaje added that his client was found guilty of "promoting terrorism" over videos published on Rassd Maroc of the assassination of Russia's ambassador to Turkey last year and violent protests in the city of al-Hoceimah.

Hor's brother has said that the charges stem from the journalist’s coverage of the anti-corruption Hirak movement.

Originally sparked by the death of a fishmonger crushed in a rubbish truck as he tried to salvage a confiscated fish, the Hirak demonstrations snowballed into a major challenge to the authorities.

In response, security forces launched a crackdown, slinging the alleged leaders of the mainly young protesters in jail in May and June.

Rights group Amnesty International says authorities have arrested "hundreds" of Hirak demonstrators, including minors.

A Moroccan court in November sentenced el-Mortada Lamrachen, a member of the movement, to five years in jail for "defending terrorism" and incitement over comments on Facebook

Nasser Zefzafi, the leader of the Hirak movement, was arrested in May after allegedly interrupting a preacher at a mosque to call for further protests.

Zefzafi and 53 co-defendants face trial on various charges including "undermining the internal security of the state".

The Rif has long had a tense relationship with the central authorities in Rabat, and was at the heart of Arab Spring-inspired protests in Morocco in February 2011.

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