Moroccan historian begins a hunger strike over travel ban

Moroccan historian and rights activist begins hunger strike over travel ban preventing medical treatment
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The historian, known for criticising Moroccan authorities, says the travel ban seeks to "pressure him" and let his "disease get worse in [his] weak body".
Maati Monjib already observed a 24-day hunger strike in 2015 for the same reason, ending it after the ban was lifted following a solidarity campaign [Getty]

Moroccan historian and rights activist Maati Monjib said Wednesday he was again going on hunger strike to protest a ban on leaving the country.

"I am starting a hunger strike in protest at being prevented from travelling for medical treatment in France, where my family is," he wrote on Facebook.

Known for his criticism of the authorities, Monjib was sentenced in January to a year in prison, after a trial opened in 2015 and was repeatedly postponed.

His lawyers and rights groups have criticised the ruling, saying it was delivered in his absence and without hearing his defence.

He said Wednesday that a pre-existing heart condition had worsened during his jail time.

"The ban only seeks to pressure me... and let the disease get worse in my weak body," he added, saying his bank accounts had been "illegally" frozen.

AFP was not immediately able to reach the authorities for comment.

Monjib had already observed a 24-day hunger strike in 2015 for the same reason, ending it after the ban was lifted following a solidarity campaign.

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The historian is accused of embezzling funds at a centre he founded to support investigative journalism.

He has repeatedly denounced his "wrongful arrest" and has denied the charges against him, while the centre's donators have never lodged complaints against him.

An appeal hearing has been scheduled for December 2.

He had been provisionally released from custody in March after a 19-day hunger strike.

"I would like to prove before the judges the inconsistency of these false and ridiculous accusations," Monjib wrote on Facebook Wednesday.

He also faces charges of money-laundering, for which he was held in detention for three months before his March release.

Monjib, who is also a French citizen, filed a complaint in France earlier this year, including over "psychological harassment" in relation to his detention.

Moroccan authorities insist that his trials have been fair.