Journalist held in prison for several hours

In a letter addressed to the Justice Minister, Omar Azziman, Reporters sans frontières (Reporters Without Borders - RSF) protested against the detention by secret service agents of Anas Mezzour, journalist for the Arabic weekly Al Ayyam. "How is it that agents from the Direction de la surveillance du territoire (DST) can freely detain a journalist in prison? We require an explanation", stated Robert Ménard, Secretary General of the organization, worried at the growing influence of the DST in Morocco. "This detention is all the more irregular as members of the DST are not authorized to arrest Moroccan citizens", he added. According to information collected by RSF, on Monday January 7, Anas Mezzour, journalist for the Arabic weekly newspaper Al Ayyam based in Casablanca, went to visit Islamists detained at the central prison of Kenitra. Mezzour was accompanied by a lawyer and a member of a local humanitarian non-governmental organization that deals with Islamist prisoners. He entered the prison at around 10 a.m. At approximately 5 p.m, as they were getting ready to leave the prison building, the three men were stopped by a group of individuals who had just entered the building. They were not in uniform, and were therefore not prison guards. Anas Mezzour was held facing a wall while the guards informed the prison governor. He was separated from his two companions and taken to the governor's office. There, a man identified by the journalist as a secret services agent, accompanied by three other agents, seized his recording device and forcibly detained him. Mezzour was held in the governor's office for three hours by the agents, who accused him of having illegally entered the building. He was released only after the prison governor's decision to call on the public prosecutor in Kenitra. "I did it to protect you", he subsequently confided. "I did not want anything to happen to you under my jurisdiction", the public servant concluded.
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Updated on 20.01.2016