Saturday 16 December 2017

Morocco activist jailed for 'defending terrorism'

Morocco activist jailed for 'defending terrorism'
(AFP (eng) 12/04/17)
Police arrested El Mortada Iamrachen in June after he posted the offending comments on his Facebook page,

A Moroccan court on Thursday sentenced to five years in jail a member of a northern protest movement convicted of "defending terrorism" and incitement, the official MAP news agency said.

Police arrested El Mortada Iamrachen in June after he posted the offending comments on his Facebook page, the agency said.

A court dealing with "terrorism affairs" issued the guilty verdict against him on Thursday, MAP said.

Other Moroccan media said the comments Iamrachen had posted on Facebook were about a December 2016 attack that killed the Russian ambassador in Turkey.

At the time his lawyer said the post was of a satirical nature.

Iamrachen, a former Salafist (hardline Islamist), was considered a moderate activist within Al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or "Popular Movement", a group calling for jobs, unemployment and an end to graft in Morocco's neglected northern Rif region.

The Hirak took prominence and led protests after the death of fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri, who was crushed to death in a rubbish truck in October 2016 as he tried to retrieve swordfish confiscated by authorities because they were caught out of season.

Protests gripped the Rif region, particularly the main port city of Al-Hoceima, but also spread to the capital Rabat and economic hub Casablanca.

Demonstrators clashed with security forces, stoned a police station and torched vehicles, triggering mass arrests including of protesters, organisers and journalists.

Hirak leader Nasser Zefzafi was among those arrested and is being tried alongside 53 co-defendants.

Zefzafi faces the death sentence on charges of "undermining the internal security of the state".

On Tuesday, rights watchdog Amnesty International urged Morocco to release at least 410 people -- including children and journalists -- detained since May over the largely peaceful protests.

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