IFJ calls for release of second journalist held in Morocco

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today welcomed the release by the Moroccan authorities of Abderrahim Ariri, managing director of the Moroccan Arab-language weekly Al Watan Al An (The Homeland Now), arrested last week following the publication of a feature entitled “The Secret Reports Behind the State of Alert in Morocco” quoting military intelligence documents.

Ariri and the author of the article Mustapha Hurmatallah were arrested last Tuesday in Casablanca and their detention later extended by 96 hours by the Casablanca prosecutor on Saturday.

“We are delighted that Ariri has been released and the serious charge of undermining state security dropped” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “We will continue to call and make representation to the Moroccan authorities for Hurmatallah to be equally released forthwith.”

Boumelha earlier appealed to Moroccan Communication minister Mr Nabil Benabdallah, Interior minister Mr Chakib Benmoussa and Justice minister Mohammad Bouzoubaa for their immediate release. In a letter sent jointly to the three ministers Boumelha said “It is clear to us that these journalists were performing their role of informing the public in reporting a story of public interest and depriving them of their liberty can only overshadow plans by Moroccan government to reform press freedom laws”.

The IFJ affiliate in Morocco, the Syndicat National de la Presse Marocaine (SNPM), which has been leading the campaign for the release of the two journalists organised today a day of solidarity involving all its members throughout the country. “We are very pleased about the success of the day of action and we thanks the community of journalists worldwide which expressed their support for our campaign and made protests to the Moroccan government” said Younes M’jahed, General Secretary of the SNPM and IFJ Vice-President. “The release of Ariri is indeed to be welcomed. But this is not enough. We will continue our protest until his colleague Hurmatallah is also released.”