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Last Updated: Monday, 23 June, 2003, 22:30 GMT 23:30 UK
Morocco editor ends hunger strike
King Mohamed VI of Morocco
Published comments on the King and Islam are restricted
An imprisoned Moroccan journalist has agreed to come off a 48-day hunger strike following the intervention of a dissident member of the country's royal family.

Ali Lamrabet was sentenced to four years in prison last month for "insulting the king's person" and "undermining [Morocco's] territorial integrity" in articles and cartoons. This was reduced to three years on appeal.

Mr Lamrabet, who is diabetic and has a heart condition, went on hunger strike on 6 May but had recently started to drink water again after losing 22kg in weight.

The cousin of King Mohammed VI, Prince Moulay Hicham al-Alaoui, told reporters that he had visited Mr Lamrabet in a Rabat hospital on Monday.

Ali Lamrabet
Lamrabet was said to be getting weaker by the day

The prince - a supporter of liberal reform in Morocco - said he had successfully argued that the cause of freedom of expression "needs him alive, not dead".

Mr Lamrabet's lawyer, Ahmed Benjelloun, said his client would continue to struggle for freedom of expression despite ending his hunger strike.

Last week's appeal court judgement upheld a ban on Mr Lamrabet's two satirical weeklies, Demain and Doumane and a fine of 20,000 dirhams ($2,350).

The case of Mr Lamrabet, the Moroccan representative of international journalists' organisation Reporters Without Borders, is being seen as a test case for press freedom in Morocco.

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21 May 03  |  Africa
Moroccan editor on hunger strike
07 May 03  |  Africa
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14 Jan 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Morocco
03 Mar 03  |  Country profiles

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