Morocco: court sentences journalist Hanane Bakour to 'suspended jail' over post critical of PM party
A Moroccan court has sentenced journalist Hanane Bakour to "suspended jail" over a social media post critical of the ruling party the journalist shared two years ago.
On Monday, 12 February, the Court of First Instance in Sale, next to Rabat, sentenced Bakour to one month of suspended imprisonment and fined her 500 dirhams (about US$50), with compensation of one dirham in favour of the current ruling party, the National Rally of Independents (RNI).
According to the Moroccan penal code, "suspension of execution" means that the convicted will not serve a prison sentence unless they commit a crime punishable by imprisonment within the next five years.
Bakour's verdict follows a lengthy trial spanning over two years and around twenty sessions.
During this time, Bakour steadfastly defended her innocence against charges of "publishing fake news via electronic means that harm private life," prompted by a complaint from the RNI, the political party led by Morocco's Prime Minister Aziz Akhennouch.
The post in question goes back to 2021. In September 2021, Bakour posted on Facebook that the election of the new president— from the RNI — of the council in the region of Guelmim-Oued Noun, in the south of Morocco, was flawed because a gunshot at his house had critically wounded the opponent candidate.
"Will we be afraid and remain silent?! Of course not... And as I always say, in the grave, there is plenty of time for silence," wrote Bakour on Facebook after the verdict.
The RNI has yet to comment on the verdict.
For over 17 years, Bakour has worked as a journalist in several local outlets, primarily those critical of the state, such as Akhbar Al Youm alyaoum24.com. Today, she is the director of The Voice of Morocco, a recently launched local media.
Last year, the Amnesty Rights group deemed Bakour's trial "shocking, heavy-handed and absurd."
"Morocco is increasingly showing its intolerance of criticism of the political system," wrote the rights group.
In their recent Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has accused the Moroccan authorities of putting pressure on the media to ensure they do as they are told and subjecting Independent journalists to constant harassment.