The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the Moroccan Supreme Court’s decision to reject an appeal by journalist Mustapha Hurmatallah and to force him to complete a seven-month jail sentence in connection with his story in Al Watan Al An newspaper that published extracts from internal government documents on security and terrorism.
“We are outraged by this decision from the Supreme Court, which puts a journalist in jail simply for reporting news of public interest,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “Mustapha should be released immediately and cleared of the charges.”
Hurmatallah, the author of the July 14 feature entitled “Secret reports behind the state of alert in Morocco,” and Abderrahim Ariri, managing director of the publication, were arrested on July 17. On July 24 they were charged with publishing “reports of a confidential nature linked to defence secrets.” Later Ariri was freed provisionally while Hurmatallah was kept in prison. They were both convicted of "handling stolen documents" on August 15 and given jail sentences.
A Casablanca appeals court reduced Hurmatallah’s sentence to seven months from eight and Ariri’s sentence reduced to a five-month suspended sentence from six months in jail.
The IFJ is supporting its affiliate, the Syndicat national de la presse marocaine (SNPM), in its call for the charges to be dropped and for Hurmatallah to be released.
“Journalists should not face jail sentences for press offences,” Boumelha said. “There can be no claim to press freedom in Morocco if the courts are throwing journalists into prison for doing their jobs.”
For more information, contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide