Moroccan journalist sentenced to jail over tweet

Journalist Omar Radi was ordered to pay a fine of 500 dirhams ($52). (Photo credit: CFImedias / YouTube)
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Updated 17 March 2020

Moroccan journalist sentenced to jail over tweet

  • A court in the Casablanca district of Ain Sebaa also ordered Radi to pay a fine of 500 dirhams ($52)
  • The ruling was immediately criticized by Amnesty International

RABAT: Moroccan journalist and human rights activist Omar Radi said Tuesday he had been handed a four-month suspended sentence for criticizing a judge in a tweet.
A court in the Casablanca district of Ain Sebaa also ordered Radi to pay a fine of 500 dirhams ($52), said the journalist, who reported the verdict in a tweet as courts in Morocco are closed to the public under measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“I had expected the trial to be scrapped. It is an attack on my freedom of expression,” Radi told AFP, adding that he will appeal the verdict.
The ruling was immediately criticized by Amnesty International, which urged Moroccan authorities to quash the sentence.
“Even though today’s verdict means Radi won’t serve time in prison, he should never have been put on trial in the first place or sentenced for expressing peaceful views on social media,” Amnesty’s regional director Heba Morayef said in a statement.
“This sentence reinforces the message that anyone in Morocco who stands up for human rights will be punished.”
In April last year, Radi criticized judge Lahcen Tolfi after he upheld sentences of up to 20 years in jail against leaders of a protest movement that rocked the country’s north in 2016 and 2017.
Radi was detained briefly in December and charged with “insulting magistrates” before being released following a social media outcry over his arrest.


Thailand suspends TV station over protests coverage

Updated 20 October 2020

Thailand suspends TV station over protests coverage

  • Thailand said on Monday that three other media organizations are under investigation
  • Protests have only gained momentum since the government announced a ban last Thursday and arrested dozens of protesters

BANGKOK: A Thai court on Tuesday ordered the suspension of an online TV station critical of the government, which has accused it of violating emergency measures aimed at ending three months of protests.
Voice TV had also been found to have breached the Computer Crime Act by uploading “false information,” digital ministry spokesman Putchapong Nodthaisong told reporters.
Thailand has drawn criticism from rights groups for banning demonstrations and the publication of news seen as damaging by the government as it tries to end the protests against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and the powerful monarchy.
Rittikorn Mahakhachabhorn, Editor-in-Chief of Voice TV, said it would continue broadcasting until the court order arrived.
“We insist that we have been operating based on journalistic principles and we will continue our work presently,” he said.
Thailand said on Monday that three other media organizations are under investigation.
Voice TV is owned in part by the Shinawatra family of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck, who was overthrown by Prayuth in a 2014 coup. Both fled Thailand to escape corruption cases they branded political.
Street protests since mid-July are the biggest challenge in decades to the monarchy under King Maha Vajiralongkorn and to Prayuth, who rejects accusations of engineering an election last year to keep power.
The demonstrations have been largely led by youths and students in contrast with a decade of street violence between supporters of Thaksin and conservative royalists before Prayuth seized power.
Protests have only gained momentum since the government announced a ban last Thursday and arrested dozens of protesters, including many of the main leaders.
A lawyer for two of them, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, said they would be arrested again on Tuesday as soon as they had been freed on bail granted by a court over earlier charges related to the protests.
Prime Minister Prayuth has said he will not quit in the face of the protests.
His cabinet agreed on Tuesday to hold an emergency session of parliament next week about the crisis. Prayuth’s supporters hold a majority in the parliament, whose upper house was named entirely by his former junta.