RABAT, Morocco — A Moroccan investigative journalist was released from prison Sunday after serving a 10-month sentence for adultery in a case that rights groups described as politically driven.
Speaking to reporters after his release, Hicham Mansouri described a violent police raid on his apartment in March, followed by police questioning that largely deviated from the charges he faced.
"They attacked the apartment, breaking down two doors," says Mansouri, a coordinator with the Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism. "They asked me about my connection with Islamist movements and other activists."
Mansouri had been working on a piece about electronic surveillance by the state when he was arrested. At the time, authorities issued a statement saying he was arrested while "preparing the location for prostitution and participating in adultery with a married woman." Adultery is illegal but the law is rarely enforced. The woman was later revealed to be separated.
Although he's now free, Mansouri faces other legal challenges. He is among seven activists and journalists facing another trial on Jan. 27 for charges that span from "threats to national security" to "failure to report foreign subsidies."
Appearing alongside Mansouri at Sunday's press conference was Moroccan historian and journalist Maati Monjib, who went on hunger strike twice last year after a travel ban was placed on him. Monjib is among those facing trial later this month.
Activists say the Moroccan government has cracked down on dissent, often in the name of averting possible extremist violence. While the government prides itself on press freedom, the Reporters Without Borders 2015 Index of Press Freedom ranked Morocco 130 out of 180 countries.