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Moroccan IT engineer arrested over fake Facebook account

Authorities unamused by Prince impersonation

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A Moroccan IT worker faces jail for setting up a Facebook account in the name of Prince Moulay Rachid, the second in line to the country's throne.

Fouad Mourtada, 26, from Goulmima in the south east of Morocco, appeared in court on Friday accused of imitating the Prince without consent, following his arrest on 5 February. He was denied bail.

According to a statement from Mourtada's family, he said: "I was arrested on Tuesday [5 February] morning by two individuals who forced me into a vehicle, then blindfolded my eyes with a black band.

"After about 15 minutes, they changed vehicles, and took me to a building to undergo an interrogation. I was beaten, slapped, spat on and insulted. I was also slammed for hours with a tool on the head and legs."

Supporters have set up a website to campaign for his release. It's claimed Mourtada set up the Facebook account, which has been closed, in admiration of the Prince.

Mourtada's lawyer Ali Ammar said: "This is a cultural problem, this is the first time that a Moroccan poses as a very important personality on the internet. This is already a common practice in Europe and USA." He said that a sentence of five years is possible, according to the Canadian Press Association. ®

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