Moroccan authorities have arrested 79-year-old Mohammed Ziane and upheld his three-year prison sentence.

Moroccan authorities have arrested the country’s former human rights minister, Mohammed Ziane, after a sentence previously handed down to him was upheld by an appeals court.

The 79-year-old lawyer’s arrest on Monday came on the same day the appeals court upheld his initial three-year sentence, the Rabat prosecutor’s office said.

Ziane is an outspoken government critic and also the founder of the Moroccan Liberal Party.

He went on trial last year after accusing Moroccan security services of faking a video that allegedly showed him in a compromising situation with a married woman in a hotel room.

The video caused a scandal, but Ziane accused the head of the police and Moroccan internal security forces, Abdellatif Hammouchi, of faking the footage.

Ziane’s son, lawyer Ali Reda Ziane, defended his father, saying that “he was transferred to the prison of el-Arjat (near Rabat). He was not even legally notified and never appeared in court.

“He’s been convicted [of] all possible and conceivable accusations, it is an anomaly the likes of which I have never seen,” said Ali Reda Ziane.

According to a complaint filed last year by Morocco’s Interior Ministry, Ziane was charged with 11 crimes, including “insulting government officials and the judiciary”, “slander”, “adultery” and “sexual harassment”. costs up.

A national organization of human rights activists defending prisoners of conscience said in a statement Monday that it was “extremely shocked by the arbitrary arrest” of Ziane, who is also a former head of the Bar Association.

The Interior Ministry accused him in January of “spreading false accusations”. He was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of 5,000 dirhams ($465) in February, but was released.

Ziane was the minister of human rights in Morocco from 1995 to 1996. The well-connected figure was also the government’s lawyer in the 1990s.

In recent years, he has become famous for his outspoken challenges to the Moroccan security apparatus.

Earlier this month, a Moroccan court sentenced human rights activist Rida Benotmane to three years in prison on charges of “contempt for institutions” after he used social media last year to push for protests against restrictive measures to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in to checkers. .

International human rights groups have said activists and campaigners in Morocco continue to face repression and persecution for crimes related to freedom of expression.

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