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Rabat – The Spanish right-wing news source El Mundo posted a fabricated interview with Nasser Zefzafi, the 41-year-old Moroccan activist imprisoned after the 2017 Rif protests.
The publishing of the faux interview comes days after tension between Morocco and Spain increased due to Spain’s admittance of Polisario leader, Brahim Ghali, who is hospitalized in Spain.
Zefzafi’s father, Ahmed Zefzafi, confirmed that El Mundo did not conduct an interview with his son, falsifying quotes.
El Mundo included emotional quotes in the article regarding the alleged torture of Zefzafi in the Tangier 2 prison.
“They asked me to say ‘Long live the King’ so that they stop torturing me,” said Zefzafi in a quote manufactured by El Mundo.
Ahmed Zefzafi criticized the interview stating, “how can those who force Nasser to shout ‘Long live the King’ under torture, at the same time, allow him to speak with a Spanish newspaper?”
The father noted the bizarre timing of the article, four years after his son’s incarceration.
“My son has been in jail for four years now, so why only remember his fond memories now?” pondered the father in an interview with local news outlets.
Indeed, the false El Mundo interview with Nasser Zefzafi comes days after Spanish authorities allowed Polisario leader Brahim Ghali to enter Spain and receive medical care. Analysts see the article as a distraction from Morocco-Spain relations.
Additionally, Nasser Zefzafi declared he was no longer leader of the Rif Hirak movement as of Monday, April 26. His father posted an update on his Facebook page confirming that Zefzafi has stepped down from leadership of the Rif Hirak movement.
“I assumed for more than four years my responsibility as an activist in the Hirak du Rif. I have always wanted to preserve the union, but my dreams faded when I stumbled on the conflicts of the egocentric ignoramuses who run only after the leadership and the fame,” said Zefzafi in a statement on the relinquishing of his power.
Nasser Zefzafi was arrested in 2017 after protesting about government corruption following the death of a local fishmonger. The government sentenced Zefzafi to 20 years for threatening state security, disrespecting King Mohammed VI, and receiving funds from abroad to attempt to destabilize the country.
Currently, Zefzafi is legally represented by a large legal team, featuring former National Coordinator of the Moroccan Liberal Party, Mohammed Ziane.
El Mundo has not responded to criticism for publishing a fake interview with Nasser Zefzafi and the article is still available on the Spanish media outlet’s website.