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Journalist Mostapha Hurmatallah released on completing his prison sentence

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders notes that reporter Mostapha Hurmatallah of the weekly "Al Watan Al An" was freed on 25 July 2008 on completing his prison sentence. He had been in Casablanca's Oukacha prison since 19 February, when Morocco's highest court of appeal ordered him to go back to jail to serve the rest of a seven-month term.

"We welcome Hurmatallah's release with joy, but we reiterate our firm condemnation of the original decision to imprison him just for doing his job," Reporters Without Borders said. "We now hope that this is the end of the era when people are jailed in Morocco because of what they write."

Hurmatallah, whose request for a royal pardon was ignored, told Reporters Without Borders that conditions in prison were very harsh. He was put in a cell with convicted criminals and his visits were restricted. He added that he nonetheless hoped that he would be the last journalist to be jailed in his country in connection with their work.

He was initially sentenced on 15 August 2007 to eight months in prison on a charge of "receiving documents obtained by criminal means" in connection with a special report about a state of alert in the 14 July 2007 issue of "Al Watan Al An".

The following month his sentence was reduced to seven months and he was released provisionally. However, he was returned to prison in February after the country's highest court rejected his appeal.

His release means that there are no journalists currently in prison in Morocco.

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