Morocco sentences YouTuber, detains journalist

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A user scrolls through a Twitter feed on the screen of an Apple Inc. iPhone 5 smartphone./Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Moroccan journalist was charged and detained over a tweet that criticized a judge. The journalist’s detention came on the same day a YouTuber was sentenced to four years in prison for “insulting the king” in a video broadcast on social networks.

Freedom of speech advocates say both cases reflect growing pressure against those who use social networks to express anger at economic and social problems.

A user scrolls through a Twitter feed on the screen of an Apple Inc. iPhone 5 smartphone./Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A court in Settat handed a four-year prison sentence to Mohammed Bekkaki for referring to Moroccans as donkeys and criticizing King Mohammed VI in a video posted on YouTube in November.

The royal family is widely revered in Morocco, and criticizing the king is a criminal offense.

Journalist Omar Radi, 33, was detained in Casablanca and now faces trial, his lawyer Said Benhammani told AFP.

Radi is being prosecuted for a tweet published nine months ago criticizing the judge in charge of the case against the leaders of the Hirak protest movement, he said.

In the first hearing Thursday, Radi’s lawyers requested his conditional release, which the Casablanca court rejected.

The next hearing is set for January 2.

Morocco’s criminal code punishes “insulting magistrates” with imprisonment of between one month and one year.

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