- The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information has denounced the recent increment of sentence of the Moroccan journalist and blogger Hassan Barhoun by the Appeals Court.
The court in the Moroccan city of Tetuan, increased the sentence on journalist last week Monday to ten months in prison instead of six, after he had accused the public prosecutor of collusion in a corruption case.
The Court of Appeal had Mr Barhoun’s sentence increased to ten months without allowing his lawyers to submit a plea during the trial's proceedings.
Mr Barhoun was arrested on 26 February and was sentenced on 6 March to six-months in jail. He was charged with circulating false news, after publishing a petition signed by more than 60 people, including activists, journalists and officials accusing the King's deputy in Tetuan, the Public Prosecutor of collision in a corruption case.
“Instead of being interrogated about the article, Mr Barhoun was arrested and sentenced to six months in prison. At the Court of Appeal, the sentenced was increased to ten months,” the Network statement said.
The Network said the harsh ruling against Mr Barhoun is part of a series of free expression violations against critics who expose state corruption and lack of transparency in the country’s administration.
It further said Moroccan judiciary denies journalists any protection, increasing the burden on the brave journalists and bloggers in a country that is rapidly retreating to years of darkness and silence.
Morocco has previously caused international outrage with its treatment of Internet users and bloggers. In 2008 Mr Fouad Mortada was sentenced to three years in prison for creating a false profile on Internet site 'Facebook' using identity of King's brother.
However, he received a royal pardon following protests from other Internet users around the world. Morocco's press code makes it an offence to show disrespect to the King.
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