Rabat – After sentencing four Hirak Rif activists to 20 years in prison, Casablanca’s Appeal Court has sentenced Moroccan journalist Hamid El Mahdaoui to three years for “inciting participation in banned protest” and “threatening national security.”
The court pronounced its verdict against El Mahdaoui on Thursday night. The court decided on Tuesday to try El Mahdaoui separately after pronouncing harsh sentences against 54 activists.
The court of appeal said that the journalist, who is also the editor-in-chief of the news outlet Badil Info, was found guilty of failing to report “an attempt to undermine internal state security” to the national police.
Police arrested El Mehdaoui on July 20, 2017, for giving a speech at Place Mohammed VI in Al Hoceima encouraging them to join a banned protest. The court also decided that El Mahdaoui should pay a fine of MAD 3,000.
On Tuesday, 54 activists and journalists received sentences ranging from 1 to 20 years.
Leaders of the protests, including Nasser Zefzafi, Nabil Ahamjik, and Ouassim Boustati, were given 20 years.
The harsh sentences against journalists and activists sparked an outrage on social media. Several journalists, celebrities, politicians and activists took to their social media accounts to condemn the court’s decision.
Earlier today, international NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the heavy sentences, calling for the immediate release of the journalists who were detained in the protests, which started in October 2016 after the death of local fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri.
Amnesty International also condemned the court’s decision, urging it to review the sentences.