The International Federation of Journalists and its regional European group the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today called for Moroccan authorities to release Swedish photographer Lars Björk who has been arrested for taking photos of protestors in Western Sahara.
The EFJ is backing a call from the Swedish Union of Journalists that the Moroccan government release Björk immediately and ensure his safety in the region.
“We see this arrest as a dangerous attack on press freedom by the Moroccan authorities,” said EFJ Chair Arne König. “Photographing or reporting on a protest in a conflict area can be dangerous but Moroccan authorities must realise that they cannot simply intimidate media with arrests and detention to keep journalists from covering the story. The authorities must release Lars immediately.”
Björk was arrested on Monday after photographing girls in a protest for independence for Western Sahara, a region that is mostly controlled by Morocco but is contested by the Algerian-backed Polisario Front.
He was working for Sweden’s Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå news agency in the region. Björk was released after his initial arrest but told he would have to return today. Authorities confiscated his passport, camera and press card.
Björk was supposed to report back to authorities this morning and neither his employer nor the Swedish Union of Journalists has heard any news from him and they are extremely worried.
The EFJ is calling on the Moroccan government to release Björk and to return his documents and camera immediately.
For more information contact the EFJ at 32 2 235 2207
The EFJ represents over 260.000 journalists in more than 40 countries