MOROCCO: Six months imprisonment in harsh ruling against journalist and blogger Hassan Barhoun



CAIRO, March 10, 2009 (ANHRI) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information condemns the harsh ruling by a Moroccan (Tetuan) misdemeanors court against journalist and blogger Hassan Barhoun.

On Friday, March 6, the Moroccan court sentenced Barhoun to 6-months jail-time and a $600 [5000 Moroccan dirham] fine for "circulating false news."

The ANHRI is also calling into question the fairness of the trial that took only one court session and saw defense lawyers withdraw from Barhoun's trial as other defense lawyers were not allowed fully submit their pleading during the day's proceedings.

Hassan Barhoun was arrested in February 26 and went to court on March 6 for publishing a memo signed by 60 political and human rights activists and intellectuals condemning corruption in the Moroccan government and raising questions about the state prosecution's role in facilitating the escape of a drugs baron in Tetuan.

The prosecution member mentioned in the memo ordered Barhoun's arrest and green-lit the "hasty" trial that led to his conviction.

ANHRI said that Barhoun's case and the harsh ruling against him is indicative of an extended series of press freedoms violations practiced against journalists and bloggers in Morocco with the government's end goal being to muzzle critics who are exposing state corruption.

According the ANHRI, Barhoun's ruling raises even more questions about the role of the Moroccan judiciary in protecting freedom of expression and opinion.

For more about Hassan Barhoum's case