Journalist jailed over anti-govt tweet released on bail in Morocco

A Moroccan court has agreed to release on bail a journalist-activist who defended anti-government protesters in a tweet.

Radi was released Tuesday soon after an appeal court in Casablanca accepted his request, according to his lawyer Omar Benjelloun.

Radi’s arrest last week was apparently prompted by a tweet six months ago in which he criticised a Moroccan court’s decision to hand maximum prison sentences to leaders of mass demonstrations in the poverty-stricken northern Rif region.

Radi has been charged with insulting a judge. A hearing on the case is scheduled Thursday in Casablanca.

If convicted, Radi could face up to a year in prison and a €500 ($555) fine. It was unclear why the arrest occurred so long after the original tweet.

Radi was also part of Arab Spring demonstrations in Morocco in 2011 that protested against corruption, abuse of power and limits on free speech, and he has continued to defend human rights since then.

Uproar in Morocco and beyond

Radi's case sparked an uproar in Morocco with hundreds protesting outside parliament over the weekend demanding his release.

Chanting "Free Omar", demonstrators accused the government of "corruption" and said judges were "at the order" of authorities.

International human rights groups also joined in the condemnations with Human Rights Watch's Sarah Leah Whitson calling his detention “unjustified”.

In April Radi criticised judge Lahcen Tolfi after he upheld sentences of up to 20 years in jail against leaders of the movement protest movement that rocked the country in 2016 and 2017.

He called him a "henchman" who "carried out orders" from higher up.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)