Washington: The United States expressed concern on Wednesday over Morocco’s decision to charge a journalist with aiding “terrorism” after he posted a link to an Al Qaida video.

Ali Anouzla, director of the Arabic version of independent news website Lakome, was arrested on September 17 after his website posted a link to the video attributed to Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the extremist network’s North African affiliate.

He was subsequently charged with defending and inciting terrorism, according to his lawyers.

“We are concerned with the government of Morocco’s decision to charge Mr Anouzla,” US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

“We support freedom of expression and of the press, as we say all the time, universal rights that are an indispensable part of any society,” she added.

“We urge the Moroccan authorities to treat his case in a fair and transparent manner in accordance with Moroccan law and Morocco’s international obligations, including due process.”

Harf confirmed Washington had been in direct contact with Moroccan officials over the case, which has triggered an outcry from rights groups in and outside of Morocco including Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders.

Police arrested Anouzla after a Lakome article carried a link to the website of Spanish newspaper El Pais, where the Al Qaida video had been posted.

The 41-minute video, entitled Morocco: the kingdom of corruption and despotism, first appeared online on September 12. It calls for jihad in the North African country and lashes out at King Mohammad VI.