Leading Moroccan journalist held on money-laundering charge
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns Moroccan journalist Maati Monjib’s detention for the past week on a new charge of money-laundering. The target of judicial harassment for years, this leading intellectual and government critic was arrested by plainclothes police in a restaurant in the Rabat district of Hassan on 29 December and is being held in El Arjat prison.
The money-laundering charge is the result of an investigation announced in October, when the Rabat prosecutor’s office said in a communiqué that the Financial Intelligence Processing Unit had reported “major transfers of funds and a real estate inventory” that did not correspond to the “usual income declared by Maati Monjib and members of his family.”
Both Monjib, who is also a well-known historian and human rights defender, and members of his family were questioned by the National Brigade of the Judicial Police in Casablanca during the investigation.
“The prolonged detention of Maati Monjib, who is being subjected to an all-out campaign of judicial, police and media harassment, is unacceptable,” said Souhaieb Khayati, the head of RSF’s North Africa bureau. “We call for the immediate withdrawal of all the charges against one of Morocco’s most emblematic critical voices.”
The founder of the Moroccan Association of Investigative Journalism (AMJI), Monjib and six other members of the association, including three journalists, have been subjected to a drawn-out trial since November 2015 on charges of endangering state security and receiving illegal foreign funding in connection with the training in investigative journalism they provided under the AMJI’s aegis.
Their trial, in which the hearings have so far been adjourned more than 20 times, could end with their being sentenced to between one and five years in prison under article 206 of Morocco’s penal code.
Morocco is ranked 133rd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.