Internet Writer Imprisoned for Insult
International PEN protests the two-year prison sentence and fine of 5,000 dirhams handed down to Internet writer Mohammed Erraji on September 8, 2008 for criticizing King Mohammed in an online article. PEN considers Mohammed Erraji to be detained in violation of his right to free expression, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release. Erraji is said to be in poor health, and PEN seeks immediate guarantees that he is being treated humanely and with full access to any necessary medical treatment.
According to PEN’s information, Internet writer Mohammed Erraji, aged 29, was arrested on September 4, 2008 for an article published in the online news web site Hespress accusing Morocco's monarchy of encouraging a culture of dependency. He argued in the article that the north African kingdom had been destroyed by the practice of handing out charity or gifts such as taxi licenses to a lucky few, which encouraged people to rely on handouts. He was reportedly tried in the southern city of Agadir without the presence of a defense lawyer, at a trial which did not conform to international standards of fairness. He was convicted of “disrespect for the king" under article 41 of the Moroccan press law for writing an article entitled “King encourages dependency on hand-outs" that criticized Mohammed VI’s custom of granting favors. Erraji is being held in Inzegane prison, near Agadir. His family is appealing the sentence.
Erraji is Hespress’s Agadir correspondent and writes regularly for the site. Since March 2007, he has also kept a blog called "Mohammed Erraji’s world" in which he writes about political and social issues. He reportedly comes from a poor family in the small town of Biougra near Agadir, and is in poor health.
Write A Letter
- Protesting the two-year sentence handed down to Internet writer Mohammed Erraji at a trial which fell far short of international standards, and demanding his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human rights;
- Expressing serious concern for Erraji’s health, and urging that he is treated humanely in detention.
Send Your Letter To
Abbas El Fassi
Le Premier Ministre
Fax : 212 037 768656
M. Abdelwahad Radi
Le Ministre de la Justice
Place El Mamoumia
Please check with PEN if sending appeals after October 9, 2008: ftw [at] pen.org