It’s not hard to find spoof celebrity profiles in Facebook, but in Morocco the act of impersonating a member of the royal family is taken very seriously indeed, as one unlucky young Moroccan man has recently discovered.

Fouad Mortada, a 26-year-old IT engineer from Casablanca was arrested at the beginning of the month, taken to a detention centre and allegedly tortured.

His crime? Mortada set up a Facebook account in the name of Prince Moulay Rachid, brother to King Mohamed VI of Morocco.

Petition to release pretend prince

Security forces in Morocco who arrested Mortada were initially concerned that Mortada could have harmful intentions towards the prince, Reuters reported. However, according to the article this wasn't the case and the truth appears to be that the young man believed that a Facebook account in the prince's name would improve his chances of a romantic encounter.

Mortada himself has claimed that he set up the account in good faith and is a huge admirer of the prince. According to a Helpfouad.com - a website set up to petition for Mortada’s release - the young IT engineer has also said that he was slapped, beaten, spat upon and insulted by security forces. If found guilty, Fouad Mortada could face up to five years in prison.

In addition to signing the petition on Helpfouad.com, interested readers could also join the dedicated Facebook group calling for Mortada’s release.