Hundreds of people demonstrated Saturday outside Morocco’s parliament demanding the release of a journalist detained for criticising a judge in a tweet.
Omar Radi, 33, was detained Thursday in Casablanca and immediately put on trial for the tweet about a judge prosecuting protest leaders, his lawyer said.
If found guilty of insulting a magistrate the journalist could be sentenced to up to one year in jail. The next hearing is set for January 2, according to Radi’s lawyer Said Benhammani.
Outside parliament crowds of supporters chanted “Free Omar”, accused the government of “corruption” and said judges were “at the order” of authorities.
Radi’s case has sparked an uproar as well among local and international human rights group who have denounced increased attacks on human rights and individual freedoms in Morocco.
“Radi’s unjustified detention and trial comes amidst an increasingly suffocating atmosphere for Moroccan journalists, dissidents, and artists who speak out on social media,” Human Rights Watch’s Sarah Leah Whitson said.
“If you express your dissatisfaction of the government on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter, you risk jail in Morocco. Not great for a country that still postures as a ‘liberal exception’ in the Arab world.”
Whitson said Radi, an award-winning journalist and human rights activist, should be released, adding that the case against him “reeks of political vengeance” against his work.