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Morocco accused of blackmailing critics with revenge porn

Day 1 - Spanish Royals Visit Morocco
RABAT, MOROCCO - FEBRUARY 13: King Mohammed VI of Morocco attends the signing of bilateral agreements at the Agdal Royal Palace on February 13, 2019 in Rabat, Morocco. The Spanish Royals are on a two day visit to Morocco. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

Moroccan authorities have been accused of silencing critics of King Mohammed VI's court, with reports that in some cases the government has resorted to using revenge porn.

According to an article in The Economist, it has been revealed that one such critic Fouad Abdelmoumni claimed that authorities gained recordings of him sleeping with his partner before sending clips to his relatives' phones.

Abdelmoumni said that dozens of dissidents ranging from liberals to Islamists have faced similar smear campaigns. The kingdom has tried and imprisoned three prominent journalists since 2019 for sexual offences including rape. State-affiliated media has, in turn, sought to frame these convictions with the country's own #MeToo movement.

However, independent journalists believe they are being targeted and tried in kangaroo courts. The report states that several women who testified against the journalists later said their statements were falsified and that at least one of them was jailed too.

READ: Justice and Development: Normalisation is a danger to Morocco

Some observers have drawn comparisons with the repression under the monarch's late father, King Hassan II, while others have seen similar tactics used under the late long-time Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Since the Arab Spring of 2011, King Mohammed implemented some reforms; however, the press, which was once among the region's freest has now increasingly come under pressure from the royal court – Editors have been imprisoned or forced into exile abroad. Morocco's recent controversial decision to establish relations with Israel has also largely gone unquestioned by the media.

Despite a 2016 ruling that abolished prison sentences for journalistic violations, the report suggests that now the government has once again turned to silence independent journalists with criminal offences or allegations unrelated to their work.

READ: Netanyahu seeks to use Morocco king in electoral campaign

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