IFJ Condemns “Inexcusable” Expulsion of Foreign Correspondents in Morocco

The International Federation of Journalists today condemned the Moroccan government over a “sinister pattern” of harassment and intimidation of foreign journalists, following the expulsion of two Norwegian reporters.

On 16 June two journalists, Tor Dagfinn Dommersnes and photographer Fredrik Refvem of the Norwegian daily Stavanger Aftenblad, were arrested, expelled and declared persona non grata by Moroccan authorities. They had been in Rabat for three days on assignment when security police came to their hotel and ordered them to leave immediately.

“We know that our colleagues complied with all the necessary regulations prior to travelling to Morocco,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “This smacks of an inexcusable attack on journalists and a determined attempt to stifle free reporting.”

The journalists had press visas and permission to take photographs. They had arrived in order to carry out legitimate interviews about tourism, Moroccan society, human rights developments and the Western Sahara. The Ministry of Communications had written to Stavanger Aftenblad on June 6 granting the journalists permission to carry out this assignment.

The IFJ recalls two cases earlier this year of Norwegian journalist Erik Hagen who was expelled on 5 April and French journalist Catherine Graciet with French photographer Nadia Ferroukhi who were expelled on 28 January 2004.

The IFJ is supporting its affiliates in Norway and Morocco in their calls for a repeal of the ban on Dommersnes and Refvem and is aiming to launch a campaign to protest the ongoing targeting and harassment of the media in Morocco.

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The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries