Moroccan journalist jailed on abortion charges

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Moroccan activists hold posters of Hajar Raissouni during a protest outside the Rabat tribunal. Photograph: Youssef Boudlal/Reuters
Moroccan activists hold posters of Hajar Raissouni during a protest outside the Rabat tribunal. Photograph: Youssef Boudlal/Reuters

A Moroccan journalist has been sentenced to a year in prison on charges of having an illegal abortion and premarital sex, in a trial observers say was concocted to crack down on criticism of the government.

Hajar Raissouni was arrested on August 31st with her fiancé as they left a gynecologist’s clinic in the capital, Rabat.

Her fiancé, Prof. Rifaat al-Amin was given a one-year sentence for alleged complicity, while Dr. Mohammed Jamal Belkeziz, accused of performing the abortion, was sentenced to two years in prison.

In a letter from prison, Raissouni described the charges as ‘fabricated’ and she maintained that the abortion never took place and that she had been seeking treatment for internal bleeding.

Raissouni who works for the Moroccan outlet Akhbar al Yaoum, says she was targeted by Moroccan authorities for her work.

While abortion is illegal in Morocco, it is permitted when the woman’s life is threatened due to pregnancy and with a husband’s permission. Prosecutions are rare, but charges involving a person’s personal life are sometimes used by the Moroccan authorities to push back on individuals seen as too critical, including journalists and members of the political opposition.

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