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Friday October 25, 2013 MYT 10:15:02 PM
Friday October 25, 2013 MYT 10:15:52 PM
RABAT (Reuters) - A Moroccan news editor facing terrorism charges for posting a link to an al Qaida video on his website was released on bail on Friday, his defence lawyer said.
Police arrested Ali Anouzla, the editor of current affairs website Lakome.com, on September 17 after he added a link to a page on Spanish news site El Pais. The page contained the al Qaeda video in which militants threatened Morocco's King Mohammed and urged young Moroccans to rise up against their rulers.
Prosecutors charged Anouzla with aiding terrorism and he was placed in pre-trial detention on September 25.
"The editor is still facing the terrorism investigation and will appear in the investigating judge's office on October 30," the lawyer Hassan Semlali told Reuters as he confirmed Anouzla's release on bail.
Moroccan journalists run the risk of imprisonment for writing critically about the monarchy, Islam and the conflict over the disputed territory of Western Sahara, while its television stations are entirely controlled by the government.
Press freedom campaigners blame the demise of some of Morocco's most feisty news titles in recent years on a gradual state campaign to smother criticism of the authorities, something the government strenuously denies.
A new constitution promised by the king following the wave of Arab popular uprisings in 2011 raised hopes for a more liberal climate and greater press freedom in the country.
Critics say the case of Anouzla suggests those hopes are being dashed.
The video, claimed by Al Qaeda's north African wing and entitled "Morocco, the kingdom of corruption and despotism", received front-page coverage in Moroccan papers last week but was later removed from El Pais's website and Youtube.
It contained clips of the king meeting former U.S. President George W. Bush and accused the country of supporting Bush and a "Jewish-Crusader union".
International rights watchdogs Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters without Borders and Moroccan human rights organizations have all urged the government to drop the charges against Anouzla.
(Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi; editing by Patrick Markey and Tom Pfeiffer)
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