A reporter for the Arabic-language daily Akhbar Alyaoum, whose trial began in Rabat on 9 September, Raissouni describes the charge as “fabricated” and “politically motivated” and says it was prompted by her recent articles about persons detained in connection with the so-called “Hirak” protests in Morocco’s Rif region in 2016 and 2017.
In a letter published by her newspaper, she reported that she was also questioned in police custody about her uncle, a well-known Islamist ideologue and outspoken newspaper columnist.
Sex-related charges are often used in Morocco to harass individuals who annoy the authorities. Taoufik Bouachrine, the influential columnist and Akhbar Alyaoum editor, was subjected to a virulent smear campaign and then sentenced to 12 years in prison on sexual assault charges that he has always denied. RSF has repeatedly denounced the way he has been persecuted.
Raissouni’s trial on charges unrelated to her journalism recalls the prominent cases of Ali Anouzla and Maati Monjib, who have been on trial for the past five years on charges of “justifying terrorism,” “incitement to commit terrorist acts” and “endangering state security” although they were just doing their jobs as a journalists.
“We condemn this meddling in the private lives of journalists and the use of personal information to defame them and the media they work for,” said Souhaieb Khayati, the head of RSF’s North Africa desk. “We urge the Moroccan authorities to drop the charges against Hajar Raissouni and to respect article 24 of the constitution, which gives everyone the right to privacy.”
Morocco is ranked 135th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.