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Blogger Boubaker Al-Yadib sentenced to six months in prison

(RSF/IFEX) - On 2 February 2010, a Guelmim court sentenced blogger Boubaker Al-Yadib to six months in prison and a fine of 500 dirhams (approx. US$62) for "degradation of state property", "threatening a public official" and "participation in an illegal demonstration". He has been detained since his arrest on 26 January. The defence has decided to appeal the verdict.

"This unjust sentence is another blow to freedom of expression in Morocco. Boubaker Al-Yadib was formally arrested for participating in an illegal demonstration. But it is clear that the grounds for his arrest and conviction are related to his commitment as an activist and blogger for freedom of expression. Moreover, the absence of any charge before the arrest is inherently illegal. In addition, his appearance before the judge was expedited, without respect for the right of defence," Reporters Without Borders said.

On the evening of 26 January, Boubaker Al-Yadib was arrested and detained in police custody in Guelmim (190 km south of Agadir). The authorities accuse him of posting, on 25 January, the announcement of a strike by bloggers for "a week of mourning for freedom of expression in Morocco." This strike, launched by the Association of Moroccan Bloggers, was due to last until 31 January.

Reporters Without Borders pointed out that blogger El Bachir Hazzam was originally sentenced to four months in prison for "spreading false news that damages the kingdom's image regarding human rights". The owner of an Internet café, Abdullah Boukfou, was meanwhile sentenced to one year in prison for disseminating information regarding protests and "possession of publications which incite racial hatred". Three demonstrators were also sentenced to six months in prison for "using violence", "disturbing public order" and "insulting officials".

"We demand the immediate release of Boubaker Al-Yadib, and a ruling proving his innocence," stated RSF, reminding also that the appeals trial of blogger El Bachir Hazzam and Internet café owner Abdullah Boukfou, arrested after the 1 December 2009 demonstrations, is due to begin on 8 February.

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