Morocco: Blogger Referred to Hasty Trial

press release

Cairo — ANHRI is concerned over the hasty trial of Mohamed Sokrate, Moroccan famous blogger, that has begun early June. The Moroccan government should stop the trial, release Sokrate, and re-investigate the charges against him.

On May 28th, the Moroccan authorities arrested Sokrate in his house on charges of "drug trafficking and possessing". He was hastily referred to trial on June 7th, and the Court of First Instance in Marrakesh adjourned the verdict to June 15th at the request of the defence.

It is worth noting that Sokrate is known for his bold comments and writings against the monarchy and the movements of political Islam. He is also a member in the February 20th opposition youth movement.

According to Sokrate's lawyer and fellow activists, the authorities also arrested his father and autistic brother, as a means to pressure Sokrate to sign recognition of the charges against him. Sokrate eventually signed as he was threatened of keeping his father and brother in custody.

"The charges against Sokrate contradict his convictions and practices. He preferred to work as a clothes street vendor, rather than accepting the illegal work he is charged with. Sokrate turned down many temptations and worked as a street vendor, and therefore the charges against him are inconsistent with his character and history," said Halima Khadim, coordinator of a campaign calling for the release of Sokrate, as quoted in press reports.

Sokrate is another victim of recent violations of freedom of opinion and expression in Morocco. The Moroccan authorities sentenced Mouad Hakid, opposition rapper, to one year in prison and Younes Belkhadem, opposition poet, to two years in prison. Last week, It sentenced Tarik Hamani, student, to six years in prison on the grounds of the events of "Kousha" neighbourhood in the city of Taza in January and February. The Moroccan authorities brutally repressed the residents of Kousha who protested to improve their living conditions, and Hamani was among the young people arrested in the events.

"Sokrate's case is a continuation of the series of detentions that included the youth who participated in the protests of February 20th, and an attempt to distort their image in the people's mind by directing offending charges at them," said ANHRI.

"How can Sokrate suddenly be a drug dealer while he is a co-founder of the movement of Mali for the Defence of Individual Freedoms and one of the youth who were summoned by the committee in charge of amending the constitution? We were expecting from Bin Kiran's freely elected Cabinet to look after the interests of the citizens and preserve their rights and freedoms, and to be better than its predecessors. Unfortunately, that did not happen," added ANHRI.

ANHRI calls on the Moroccan government to immediately release Sokrate, re-try him, release all prisoners of conscience and reconsider its treatment of opinion makers if it genuinely respects all international and humanitarian conventions and treaties recognizing public freedoms.

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