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Morocco jails Facebook faker

Prince impersonator gets three years

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A Moroccan IT engineer has been jailed for three years for setting up a fake Facebook profile impersonating a member of the country's royal family.

The jail time was handed down on Friday by a court in Casablanca, which had found Fouad Mourtada guilty of "usurping the identity of HRH Prince Moulay Rachid". The 26-year-old was also hit with a $1,300 fine, the official Moroccan news agency reports.

Mourtada was arrested on 5 February. His supporters have claimed that he created the account in tribute to the prince.

Amnesty International said it was shocked by the sentence. "The sentence is disproportionate to the offence," a member of the human rights group in Morocco told AFP. The criticisms aimed at Mourtada by the prosecutor and judge for having "undermined the sacred integrity of the realm as represented by the prince", particularly worried Amnesty.

An earlier statement from Mourtada's family claimed he had only confessed to having committed a crime under duress. His lawyer plans to appeal against the verdict.

Last year, Morocco added its name to the growing list of states that have banned YouTube because they don't like some of the video on the site. Clips posted by the West Saharan independence movement were reportedly too hot for the government. ®

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