Morocco must free citizen-journalist on hunger strike, RSF says
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is extremely concerned about the health of Rabii al Ablak, an imprisoned Moroccan citizen-journalist who has been on a hunger strike for more than 40 days, and calls on the Moroccan authorities to release him quickly.
Ablak’s physical condition has worsened dramatically in recent days in his cell in Tangiers Prison No. 2. Detained since June 2017, he is serving a five-year jail term that was upheld on appeal in June 2018. Convicted of “spreading fake news” and “posing as a journalist,” he has always denied the charges, insisting that they were politically motivated. He was also fined 2,000 dirhams.
The prison authorities deny that his health is suffering as a result of a hunger strike. “[Ablak] never filed an advanced warning of a hunger strike and [...] his state of health is normal,” prison officials said.
“It is disgraceful and unjust to deny that Rabii al Ablak’s state of health is terrible,” RSF’s North Africa desk said. “This citizen-journalist must be released and given medical care as quickly as possible.”
Ablak is one of six citizen-journalists who were arrested in June 2017 in connection with their coverage of the so-called “Hirak” protests in Morocco’s northern Rif region. All were convicted and given sentences ranging from two to five years in prison.
Morocco is ranked 135th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.