Facebook: We didn't give data leading to Morocco arrest

Company denies helping the Moroccan government locate a man who was sentenced to three years in jail for posting a fake profile of the country's prince.

Facebook has denied giving the Moroccan government information to identify a man who was sentenced to prison for posting a fake profile of a Moroccan prince.

A Moroccan court last week sentenced the 26-year-old IT engineer to three years and fined him 10,000 dirhams ($1,320) for setting up a Facebook account in the name of King Mohammed's brother, Prince Moulay Rachid.

Some civil-liberties groups questioned whether Facebook helped the Moroccan government locate Fouad Mortada.

HelpFouad logo
Supporters of Mourtada have set up a Web site to call attention to his case. HelpFouad.com

But The Wall Street Journal on Friday quoted Brandee Barker, a Facebook spokeswoman, as saying in a statement that while the company's privacy policy and terms of use allow it to share data with law enforcement and other government agencies "when it has a good faith belief it is legally obligated to do so...Facebook has shared no such information with the Moroccan authorities."

According to Amnesty International, Mourtada said two plain-clothes security agents arrested him on the morning of February 5.

They blindfolded him and covered him with a sheet, he said, then drove him to an unknown place where they beat him until he "confessed" that he had placed a profile of the Prince on the social-networking site to "get girlfriends."

Mourtada, however, said he posted the profile out of admiration for the prince, and not out of a desire to undermine the monarchy as asserted by the prosecution during the trial. The court convicted Mourtada of modifying and falsifying information technology data and usurping an official's identity; the case is expected to go to appeal.

While Facebook prohibits users from impersonating others, the site is nonetheless full of false profiles of well-known personalities.

Mourtada's family has sent the prince an appeal for clemency. In addition, a Web site set up by Mourtada supporters has declared Saturday as an international day of solidarity, with protests on his behalf scheduled in cities including Rabat, Paris, Montreal, London, Brussels, Washington D.C., Amsterdam, and Madrid.

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Leslie Katz, Crave's senior editor, heads up a team that covers the most crushworthy (and wackiest) tech, science, and culture around. As a co-host of the now-retired CNET News Daily Podcast, she was sometimes known to channel Terry Gross and still uses her trained "podcast voice" to bully the speech recognition software on automated customer service lines. E-mail Leslie.

 

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