Seven activists, five of whom are journalists, on trial in Morocco: RSF

    Seven activists, five of whom are journalists, on trial in Morocco: RSF

    Nov 18, Reporters Without Borders calls on the judicial authorities to drop all charges against seven activists, including five journalists and writers, whose trial on charges of “endangering state security and integrity” and receiving “illegal foreign funding” is due to begin on 19 November. Some are facing up to five years in prison.

    The five journalists and writers – Maati Monjib, Samad Ayach, Maria Moukrim, Rachid Tarik and Hicham El Mansouri – are all reporters or regular contributors to such Moroccan media outlets as Lakome2 or Zamane. They are also all members of the Moroccan Association of Investigative Journalism (AMJI). The other two defendants are Hicham Khreibchi (also known as Hicham Al-Miraat), who is the ex-director of the Digital Rights Association (ADN) and Mohamed Essabeur, who heads the Moroccan Education and Youth Association (AMEJ).

    According to our sources, the authorities accuse them of failing to adhere to the requirements of journalistic “accuracy” and “ethics” and sullying Morocco's image in their articles.

    “The Moroccan authorities must urgently end their political and judicial harassment of journalists, which aims to discourage all criticism,” said Yasmine Kacha, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Maghreb desk. “The charges against these journalists and human rights activists must be dismissed if Morocco is to comply with its international obligations, including the obligation to protect freedom of expression and information under article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

    To gag these free speech and media freedom defenders, the authorities are resorting to vaguely-worded legal provisions with heavy penalties. For example, according to our information, the “endangering state security” charge was prompted by articles critical of the government, including one by Monjib posted on the Orient XXI website on 30 March.

    Ayach's articles for Lakome2, which were also very critical of the government, and a report about the Moroccan government's surveillance methods, which ADN and Privacy International published in June and which we supported, are also the targets of the article 206 charge, which carries a possible five-year sentence.

    AMJI president and former Le Matin's journalist Tarik and former AMJI president and editor in chief of Moukrim are facing possible fines of 1,200 to 5,000 dirhams on a charge of violating article 8 of the law that regulates NGOs. The charge apparently aims to curb training by AMJI, whose 2014 action plan included training in investigative journalism and awards for the best investigative reports.

    The Oslo Times/RSF


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