Moroccan court decides to try website editor separately
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls again for the immediate release of Badil.info website editor Hamid el Mahdaoui after a Casablanca court decided today to separate his trial from the trial of 54 co-defendants who, like him, are charged in connection with last year’s so-called “Hirak” protests in northern Morocco’s Rif region.
Arrested in the Rif city of Hoceima on 20 July 2017 while covering one of the protests, a peaceful march that was banned a few days before it took place, Mahdaoui is facing up to five years in prison on a charge of failing to report “an attempt to endanger internal state security” to the authorities.
“We are relieved by the Casablanca criminal court’s decision to separate Badil.info editor Hamid el Mahdaoui’s case from that of the Hirak protest movement,” said Souhaieb Khayati, the head of RSF’s North Africa bureau.
“The court must now free him. He was there as a journalist and was just doing his job as a reporter by covering news events of interest to the general public. We reiterate our call for the withdrawal of all charges against this website editor, who has no place being in prison. Reporting the news cannot be regarded as a crime.”
Morocco is ranked 135th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.