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‘Morocco dissident historian to be provisionally released’

By AFP - Mar 23,2021 - Last updated at Mar 23,2021

RABAT — Moroccan historian and rights activist Maati Monjib, who has been on a hunger strike for 19 days, will be granted provisional release after three months in prison, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

“The investigating judge has decided to provisionally release him on bail, and steps are underway to get him out of prison,” said Mohamed Messaoudi, adding that his client’s health was “good even though he has lost 12 kilogrammes”.

Monjib was expected to leave El Arjat Prison near Rabat, where he has been held since his arrest, by the end of the day.

The 60-year-old was taken into custody on December 29 as part of a preliminary investigation into money laundering.

In parallel, a Moroccan court sentenced him in January to one year in prison for fraud and undermining state security, as part of a trial that opened in 2015.

His defence team said they were not told about the hearing and Monjib purportedly was not in attendance.

He has repeatedly denounced his “wrongful arrest” and has denied the charges against him.

Moroccan authorities have said Monjib received a fair trial.

Earlier this month Monjib, who is also a French citizen, filed a complaint in France including over “psychological harassment” in relation to his detention.

His French lawyers said at the time that he was “one of the most emblematic critical voices of the Moroccan regime, denouncing in particular the grip of the security services on political life”.

His supporters in Morocco and France have repeatedly demanded his release, calling him a “prisoner of conscience” and expressing worry about the effect of his hunger strike on his health.

In a statement on Facebook in November saying he had contracted the novel coronavirus, Monjib said he also suffered from heart problems and diabetes.

His lawyer said on Tuesday that he was “in good spirits”.

The accusations against Monjib relate to the management of a centre he created to help promote investigative journalism.

Six journalists and activists who were also on trial were sentenced to up to a year in prison. Three have left Morocco, and been granted political asylum in Europe.

Monjib’s support committee said he had requested transferral to hospital on Monday to “continue the hunger strike under medical supervision”.

He had become considerably weaker and had lost consciousness several times, his supporters said.

Monjib began his hunger strike on March 4 to demand his immediate release.

His wife Christiane Darde last week called on French President Emmanuel Macron to “intervene quickly”, saying Monjib’s health was at risk.

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