A "kiss-in" outside the parliament in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, in October.FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images
Anonymous took to the Internet Wednesday, ahead of a hearing this week for three Moroccan youths arrested for posting pictures to Facebook of two of them kissing.
The international hacktivist group bombarded Moroccan government Twitter accounts with tweets using the hashtag #NadorKiss beginning at 7 p.m. EST, demanding that the three be exonerated of violating public decency.
Hundreds of tweets had been sent by 9 p.m. One, from a Twitter user with the handle @SLW1957, read: "We do hope you reconsider your thoughts on any further persecution of the 3 Nador teens. We will not relent. #NadorKiss."
Anonymous appeared to have taken down a number of government webistes as well.
The teens, from the northeastern city of Nador — a boy named Mouhsin, 15, and a girl named Raja, 14, who were photographed kissing, and another boy, Oussama, 16, who took the photos — were arrested on Oct. 3 and held at a juvenile detention center for six days. The three have been released, but they face a closed hearing Friday, followed by a sentencing next week, their lawyer told Al Jazeera.
"Their sentence will be educational at most, in my opinion," the criminal affairs and pardons director at Morocco's Justice Ministry, Mohamed Abdennabaoui, told Al Jazeera.
Abdennabaoui appeared unaware at the start of his telephone interview with Al Jazeera that the case, which aroused anger among much of Moroccan society for what was called an attack on individual freedoms, was ongoing.
"This case has been over for two months, when the judge pronounced that he liberated them" from their detention at the juvenile center, Abdennabaoui said.
After he was reminded that the teens still face sentencing, Abdennabaoui insisted that "there is no outcome that will affect their liberty" from prison.
"This affair is over."
He then hung up. When Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid was reached by telephone, he told Al Jazeera that he was "very busy right now" and ended the call.
The children's lawyer Mbarek Bouirik, who is a member of the Nador chapter of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH), told Al Jazeera that Ramid had forgotten about the affair during an interview on the radio.
"He went on the radio and said he was not aware of this case," Bouirik said.
Asked if he thought it was normal that the North African kingdom's justice minister was unaware of a high-profile case, Bouirik said, laughing, "No comment."
Bouirik explained, however, that something Anonymous must understand is that "in Morocco ... there are things that are not normal for young people and women abroad."
Others within the international AMDH network appear to disagree.
"A kiss cannot reasonably be considered a crime!" the organization's Paris branch said in a statement shortly after the teens were released from detention.
"Morocco prefers to pardon and free criminals, serial pedophiles and corrupted people while imprisoning adolescents for a kiss or peaceful protesters of the Feb. 20 democracy movement or journalists for airing a message that differs from official accounts."
The statement referred to a Moroccan royal pardon for Spanish pedophile Daniel Galvan in August that caused a similar uproar against the nation's legal system, which is still not entirely independent from the crown after King Mohamed VI's disputed reforms following the Arab Spring.
The king is slated to meet with President Barack Obama this week to bolster relations between the United States and Morocco. The country has traditionally cooperated with Western powers on a number of measures against North African armed groups.