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Attacks on the Press in 2013 - Morocco

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date March 2014
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2013 - Morocco, March 2014, available at: [accessed 25 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Key Developments

  • Authorities crack down on criticism of monarchy.

  • Journalist convicted on charges of criminal defamation.

The Moroccan government continued its practice of targeting journalists and news outlets in connection with their critical coverage of taboo subjects, such as the health of the king or the royal family. One editor of an investigative weekly was convicted of defamation in relation to an article he wrote that said a government minister had drunk alcohol. The editor was fined and handed a two-month suspended prison sentence. Another editor was charged with promoting terrorism under the country's 2003 anti-terrorism law for publishing a link to a video of an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group. After an international outcry by more than 60 free-expression organizations, the editor was released on bail, but he still faces charges. In its annual census conducted on December 1, CPJ documented one journalist behind bars, a decrease from previous years.

[Refworld note: The sections that follow represent a best effort to transcribe onto a single page information that appears in tabs on the CPJ's own pages, which also include a number of dynamically-generated graphics not readily reproducible here. Refworld researchers are therefore strongly recommended to check against the original report: Attacks on the Press in 2013.]

Journalist in jail: 1

At least one journalist was behind bars in Morocco when CPJ conducted its annual prison census on December 1. Mohamed Sokrate, a prominent blogger who had been critical of the monarchy, was arrested in May 2012 and sentenced to two years in prison on charges of drug possession and trafficking, according to reports.

Days in jail: 38

Ali Anouzla, editor of the news website Lakome, was arrested on September 17 and held for more than a month in connection with a news article posted on Lakome in July.

The article referred to a story by the leading Spanish daily El País, which included a direct link to a YouTube video purportedly posted by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a North African branch of the extremist group. The video criticized Morocco's King Mohamed VI.

Anouzla faced trial for "advocacy of acts amounting to terrorism offenses" and "providing assistance to perpetrators or accomplices of acts of terrorism," according to reports. If convicted, he faced six to 20 years in jail.

Sixty organizations called for Anouzla's release and defended the journalist against the authorities' claim that the article had "advocated terrorism" and "initiated a terrorist act."

On November 20, Anouzla wrote to CPJ, saying he had been released. His trial was continuing in late 2013.

Month suspended jail term: 2

Youssef Jajili, editor-in-chief of investigative weekly Alaan Magazine, was handed fines and a two-month suspended prison sentence in June in connection with a criminal defamation conviction.

Jajili had reported that Abdelkader Amara, minister of manufacture and trade in the current Islamic government, had ordered champagne to his hotel room while on a taxpayer-funded trip outside the country. The official disputed the account. The allegation was embarrassing to the minister because Islam forbids Muslims from drinking alcohol.

Amara denied the accusation and accused Jajili of fabricating the story, news reports said. After Jajili published the hotel bill showing the charges under the official's name, Amara claimed he was not in his room when the charges were incurred, the reports said.

Jajili was charged under the Moroccan Press Law, under which journalists face up to one year in jail and harsh fines if convicted of defamation.

Authorities have used defamation charges to silence independent journalists in the past, CPJ research shows. From 2009 to 2011, several newspapers were targeted in politicized criminal proceedings for criticizing the government or for their coverage of taboo subjects such as the health of the king or the royal family, CPJ research shows.

Internet penetration rate: 8th

Morocco is ranked eighth in Internet use among the countries in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the International Telecommunication Union.

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