Authorities arrested al-Dawas, a critical journalist who wrote for the blog Al-Fnidaq Online, in the northern city of Fnidaq, according to news reports. On September 22, a court in Tetouan sentenced the blogger to a 19-month prison sentence on drug trafficking charges, defense lawyer Abdel al-Sadiq al-Bushtawy told CPJ.
Al-Bushtawy said his client denied the drug trafficking allegations, which the defense considered retaliation for al-Dawas’ critical writing. Al-Fnidaq Online features the work of several journalists who write about local government corruption. A report by the French news outlet France 24 quoted several local journalists as saying they, too, believed the arrest to be retaliation for al-Dawas’ critical writing.
Al-Bushtawy told CPJ that the defense team was not given an adequate opportunity to present its case. In protest, the defense team withdrew from what it deemed unfair proceedings, and the court tried al-Dawas without counsel. In late year, an appeals court upheld his sentence, his lawyer said.
In October 2012, al-Dawas was transferred to Okasha Prison in the northern province of Taounate, al-Bushtawy said.