Man jailed for five years for criticizing King in Facebook posts
He was sentenced to five years in prison for criticizing the king on Facebook over normalization of ties with Israel, his lawyer said.
The 48-year-old was jailed on Monday for posts that denounced normalization “in a way that could be interpreted as criticism of the king”, his lawyer El Hassan Essouni said on Wednesday.
It is the monarch’s prerogative to oversee foreign affairs according to the country’s constitution. In December 2020, the Abraham Accords, backed by the US, normalized relations between Morocco and Israel.
Defending his client, the lawyer said the verdict was “harsh and incomprehensible”.
According to him, although his client rejected ties with Israel, he did not intend to offend the king by doing so.
Boukioud was living and working in Qatar at the end of 2020, when the posts on Facebook were published.
After learning that he was being prosecuted in Morocco, the lawyer deleted the posts and closed the account.
Under article 267-5 of the penal code, Boukioud was sentenced to between six months and two years in jail for undermining the monarchy.
If the offence is committed publicly, including electronically, the sentence can be increased to five years.
The law, according to human rights activists, hinders freedom of expression and does not specify exactly what constitutes an attack on the monarchy.
Morocco and Israel have been cooperating more closely in areas such as security, trade and tourism since normalizing their relations.
Despite this, not all Moroccans support this, especially since Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right coalition came to power in December last year. It is also common for Moroccans to hold strong pro-Palestinian views.
Morocco’s king reiterated its unwavering support of the just Palestinian cause and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people in a speech on Saturday marking the anniversary of his accession to the throne in 1999.