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Moroccan publisher jailed for criticism

June 11, 2011 at 1:44 PM

CASABLANCA, Morocco, June 11 (UPI) -- A leading Moroccan journalist has been sentenced to a year in prison for articles critical of the government, his newspaper says.

Rachid Niny, publisher of Al-Massae in Casablanca, the country's largest newspaper, was convicted Thursday of "disinformation" for stories questioning the spy agency and urging it to be put under parliamentary control.

Morocco outlaws "erroneous" reporting about the government.

"We reject this verdict," Khalid Sefiani, Niny's lawyer, told CNN. "Prison for him is a violation of the liberty of journalism and to the future of Morocco. ... We regret that the court dismissed the application of the press code in favor of a penal one."

The Committee to Protect Journalists said the decision was "another example of how the Moroccan judiciary is utilized to curb press freedom."

Niny, who has been fined for his journalism in the past, has written about official corruption and called for repeal of the anti-terrorism law, the committee said.

Al-Massae's story Friday implied the prosecution was ordered by King Mohamed VI or someone close to him. "It's a political solution from the highest powers in the country," the paper wrote.

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