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Journalist, blogger Hassan Barhoum sentenced to six months in prison and fined for denouncing corruption

(ANHRI/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information condemns the harsh ruling by Tetuan misdemeanors court against journalist and blogger Hassan Barhoun for allegedly circulating false news. On 6 March 2009, in a hasty trial that took only one hearing session, the court sentenced him to six months in prison and a 5,000 Moroccan dirham fine (approx. US$570). Some lawyers withdrew from the session while other lawyers could not fully submit their pleas, casting doubt upon the justice of the court.

Hassan Barhoun, arrested on 26 February, was sent to trial on 6 March for publishing a memo signed by 60 political and human rights activists and intellectuals condemning corruption and questioning the role of the prosecution in facilitating the escape of a drug baron in Tetuan. The prosecution member mentioned in the memo ordered Barhoun's arrest and arranged the quick trial.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights said that Hassan Barhoun's case and the harsh ruling against him is an episode in an extended series of violations practiced against journalists and bloggers in Morocco with the purpose of muzzling and punishing them for fighting corruption. The ruling raises more questions on the role of the judiciary in protecting freedom of expression and opinion or in manacling it.

Updates the Barhoun case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/101222

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