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Cairo, April 15, 2009

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information condemns the harsh ruling by a Court of Appeal in the Moroccan city of Tetouan on Monday 13 April, to increase the sentence on the journalist and blogger Hassan Barhoun for a ten-month sentence in prison instead of six, on the grounds of accusing the public prosecution of collusion in a corruption case.

Hassan Barhoun was arrested on February 26 and was sentenced on March 6 to six-months-jail-time on charges of circulating false news, after publishing a petition signed by more than 60 people, including activists, journalists and officials accusing the King’s deputy in Tetuan, “public prosecutor” of collision in a corruption case. Instead of being interrogated about his article, he was arrested and sentenced to six months. Furthermore, in the Court of Appeal, he was surprised by the court’s judgment to increase the sentence to ten months. It is worth mentioning that defense lawyers were not allowed to submit their pleading during the trial’s proceedings.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said that “the harsh ruling against Barhoun is a strong indication of an extended series of press violations practiced against critics who are exposing state corruption, with the Moroccan judiciary abstaining from protecting them, which increases the burden on the brave journalists and bloggers in a country that is rapidly retreating to years of darkness and silence.”

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