Journalist's trial again delayed, RSF calls for charges to be dropped
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on Morocco's judicial authorities to drop serious terrorism charges dating back to 2013 that are still pending against news website editor Ali Anouzla, who appeared in court today only to see the hearing postponed yet again.
Anouzla is facing up to 30 years in prison on charges of "material support for terrorism," "justifying terrorism" and "incitement to commit acts of terrorism" in a September 2013 post on Lakome, the website of which he was then the editor.
He spent five weeks in provisional detention before being released on bail on 25 October 2013, since when the case has neither been tried nor dropped. When he appeared in court in Rabat today, the hearing was again postponed, this time until february 22, 2018.
"The Moroccan judicial system's conspiracy against Ali Anouzla must stop," said Yasmine Kacha, the head of RSF's Tunis bureau. "We call for the withdrawal of the baseless charges against this journalist, who was one of RSF's 'information heroes' in 2014. Use of the terrorism law to prosecute journalists violates Morocco's constitution and its international obligations to protect the right to inform."
The grounds given by the authorities for the charges against Anouzla was the 2013 post's inclusion of a link to an article on the website of the Spanish daily El País that, in turn, had a link to a video supposedly posted by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). But, according to the information obtained by RSF, the real reason for the decision to arrest Anouzla was other revelations in Lakome that had irritated the authorities.
Morocco is ranked 133th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.