IFJ Condemns Campaign against Independent Media in Morocco

The

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins today its affiliate the

Syndicat national de la presse marocaine (SNPM) in condemning the Moroccan

government's campaign to muzzle critical journalists.

Last week, the campaign

took a turn for the worse when the offices of the daily Akhbar al Youm,

were cordoned off by the police and staff and management prevented from

entering their offices in Casablanca.

Editor Tawfiq Bouachrine and cartoonist Khaled

Kadar were interrogated for 48 hours following the publication of a cartoon

depicting the wedding of a member of the royal family, prince Moulay Ismail.

The

SNPM, an IFJ affiliate, organised

a demonstration last Friday to break the cordon and held a rally outside the

newspaper. Its President, Younes M'Jahed, said

"The siege of Akhbar al-Youm is a flagrant violation of the current

Press Law and smacks of authoritarianism. The

Ministry of the Interior has no legal authority to order such a closure."



The

campaign by the authorities has been steadily escalating. Several journalists

have been under investigation by the judicial police in Rabat following the publication of articles

quoting medical sources on the health of the court. Ali Anouzla, editor of the

daily al Jareeda al Oula, and journalist Bochra Daou were charged for

"intentionally publishing false information" as well as the editor of the

weekly Al Michaal Driss Chahtan and journalists Mostafa Hiran and Rashid

Mahameed.

Al-Jarida al-Oula, Al Ahdath al Maghribia and Al

Massae have

already been taken to a Casablanca court by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi after they published articles which criticised him in 2008 and early

2009 and ordered to pay a fine

of 100,000 dirhams (8779 EUR) and damages of 1 million dirhams ‎‎(87791 EUR).

"This

is an unprecedented onslaught by the Moroccan authorities seeking to silence

independent journalists." said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "Their action have

put Morocco

in the forefront of the enemies of press freedom that harass, torment and

prosecute journalists. The use of the courts and the excessive fines have one

aim only, to gag journalists."

For more information

contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207


The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists

in 123 countries worldwide