Royal pardon frees Moroccan Facebook user

Fouad Mortada, 26, had been jailed for setting up a Facebook profile under the name and likeness of the king's brother.(From Reuters)

A Moroccan computer engineer jailed last month for setting up a Facebook account in the name of King Mohammed's brother has been freed after a royal pardon, his lawyer said Wednesday. Fouad Mortada, 26, was jailed for three years and given a 10,000 dirham ($1,370) fine on February 23 for falsifying data and imitating Prince Moulay Rachid without his consent.

The ruling sparked protests from free-speech campaigners around the world, and Moroccan bloggers stopped writing in solidarity with Mortada. His supporters said the Moroccan judiciary had failed to understand that thousands of people set up accounts on Facebook and other sites under the names of celebrities. Mortada argued that he had set up the account because of his admiration for the prince and meant him no harm. He had appealed to the prince for clemency before being jailed. "Fouad's liberation is a victory for justice and freedom," said his lawyer, Ali Ammar. "The king has done what the court should have done in the first place."

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