Middle East Monitor / August 3, 2023
A Moroccan court has sentenced a blogger to five years in prison over posts on Facebook criticizing the normalization of relations with Israel that were deemed “offensive” to the monarchy, according to his lawyer.
Lawyer Hassan al-Sunni told AFP that his client, Saeed Boukayoud, 48, “was sentenced to five years in prison on Monday for Facebook posts denouncing normalization with Israel in a way that could be interpreted as criticism of the King.”
The facts of the case go back to December 2020, when Boukayoud, who resides in Qatar, published posts rejecting the agreement, which at that time required Morocco to resume its relations with the occupation state of Israel in return for the US recognizing its sovereignty over the Western Sahara, according to his lawyer.
The lawyer explained that once his client discovered he was facing prosecution in Morocco, he deleted the posts and disabled his account. However, he was arrested upon his return to Casablanca last week.
The sentencing was based on Article 267-5 of the penal code, which stipulates imprisonment ranging from six months to two years for undermining the monarchy. However, the sentence can be increased to five years if the offence is committed publicly, including online.
He was sentenced on Monday by the Court of First Instance in Casablanca.
Al-Sunni described the verdict as “harsh and incomprehensible,” explaining that his client “assured the court that he intended to denounce normalization and not to offend the King.”
The lawyer noted that the sentence has been appealed.