December 17, 2018

Press Freedom

Morocco

Morocco May 19, 2006

H.M. King Mohamed VI
Palais Royal
Cabinet Royal
Rabat
Kingdom of Morocco
Fax: (011.212.37) 76-85-15

Your Majesty:

We protest again the continued harassment by your government of Le Journal Hebdomadaire, a significant and independent weekly magazine in Morocco.  Its forthright journalism and its criticism of injustice and corruption have long been a sterling example of freedom of expression, as the community of nations defines that term.

Most recently, the journal was sued for libel in a case brought to court by the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Centre, a think-tank located in Brussels.  As you must know, the centre’s head, Mr. Claude Moniquet, declared that le Journal defamed both him and his institute in a lengthy review questioning the impartiality of their report on the Western Sahara, a region that has been in dispute and at war with your government for more than thirty years.

Le Journal Hebdomadaire and its sister publication, Assahifa al-Ousbouiya, have long been harassed by the government for their reporting on corruption, corporate impropriety, and taboo political topics.  An earlier judgment against the journal, awarding $337,000 to Mr. Moniquet, was upheld last month by the appeals court in Rabat.  Le Journal withdrew its participation from both the appellate proceeding and the lower court trial because it was denied a key witness in its defense.

Your Majesty, this exorbitant fine may bankrupt the magazine and force it to close, thus denying your citizens even their present limited access to independent journalism.

The Overseas Press Club of America, an organization of journalists concerned with international affairs, has worked for more than sixty-five years to encourage and protect freedom of expression.  We urge you, Your Majesty, to involve yourself personally in this sad betrayal of trust in freedom of the media to report on the world.  It is a betrayal that damages the image of your country in the community of nations.

Respectfully yours,
Jacqueline Albert-Simon
Larry Martz
Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:

H.E. Driss Jettou
Prime Minister    
Office of the Prime Minister                    
Palais Royal – Le Mechouar                        
Rabat
Kingdom of Morocco
Fax: (011.212.7) 76-99-85

Aziz Mekouar
Ambassador of Morocco to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco
1601 21st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Fax: (202) 265-0161

The Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations
866 Second Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 980-1512/ 421-7826

Thomas T. Riley
U.S. Ambassador to Morocco
Embassy of the United States of America
2 Avenue Mohamed El Fassi
10 000 Rabat
Morocco
Fax: (011.212.37) 76-56-61

The Editor
Le Journal Hebdomadair
Morocco
redacteur@maroc-hebdo.press.ma

The Editor
The Morocco Times
editor@moroccotimes.com