- Jailed newspaper editor Ali Lmrabet was rushed to Rabat's Avicenne hospital today and put on an intravenous drip. Mr Lmrabet, who was imprisoned on 21 May, has been on hunger strike since 6 May and press freedom groups are voicing "deep concern" about his condition.
Media watchdog Reporters sans Frontičres (RSF) have been in contact with Mr Lmrabet's physician, who said he is in a very weak condition. "He has not been able to drink since yesterday. He is throwing everything up. He has great difficulty talking, and he can no longer walk," the doctor said.
RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard said the organisation is "terribly worried" and urged the authorities not to return Lmrabet to prison. "He must remain in hospital for a considerable period of time and must get the best treatment," Mr Ménard said.
- The Moroccan authorities are responsible for Mr Lmrabet's health, Mr Ménard added. "They will bear a heavy responsibility if anything unfortunate should happen. The king cannot remain indifferent to his situation. This is no longer simply about press freedom - a man's life is at stake."
The editor of two satirical weeklies, the French-language 'Demain Magazine' and its Arabic-language version, 'Douman', Mr Lmrabet was sentenced to four years' imprisonment on 21 May for "insulting the person of the King", committing an "offence against territorial integrity" and an "offence against the monarchy". The court also fined him 20,000 dirhams (approx. 2,000 euros) and banned his two weeklies.
Since the day of his conviction, he had been held at Salé prison, near Rabat, where he was sharing a cell with two inmates held for common crimes. The prominent editor was jailed immediately after a Rabat court sentenced him to four years in prison.
The draconic sentence immediately provoked strong words of protest from all organisations and groups dedicated to press freedom worldwide. RSF was joined by the International Federation of Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists and others in demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Lmrabet.
When Mr Lmrabet began his hunger strike on 6 May, he said he was acting to defend his rights, to put an end to repeated acts of intimidation against his printer and others who would otherwise be prepared to print his weeklies, and in order to be able to enjoy his right to freedom of movement.
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