Journalist jailed for publishing secrets

The International Federation of Journalists has called on media unions throughout the world to support Morroccan journalist Mustapha Hurmatallah, who has been imprisoned since 17 July.

The IFJ affiliate, the Syndicat National de la Presse Marocaine (SNPM), called on all its members to stop work for thirty minutes at 1pm today. They have also urged those who can to converge on the courts in Casablanca where the trial of their colleague is to resume to do so.

“This is a watershed moment for the right to know and the protection of journalists’ sources in Morocco,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “The IFJ, with over 600,000 journalists, is fully behind the action taken by the Moroccan colleagues. This is a crucial struggle in which all IFJ unions have a stake.”

Abderrahim Ariri, managing editor of the Arabic-language weekly Al Watan Al An and his reporter Mustapha Hurmatallah, were arrested in Casablanca on 17 July after their publication ran a feature entitled: “The Secret Reports Behind the State of Alert in Morocco” quoting military intelligence documents.

The two journalists were first charged with publishing “reports of a confidential nature linked to defence secrets.” Later, Ariri was freed provisionally while Hurmatallah was kept in prison pending the opening of the court proceedings adjourned to today. They are now both charged with “possessing stolen documents.”

Journalists were further outraged by a decision on Saturday of the Moroccan government to confiscate last week’s issues of another Arabic-language weekly Nichane and the French-language weekly TelQuel for publishing an editorial and articles considered by the government as “disrespectful” of the King, against public morality, and offending Islam. Their editor, Ahmed Benchemsi, was held for questioning.

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