May 22, 2017

Drop charges against Maati Monjib and six co-defendants, RSF says

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the withdrawal of all charges against Maati Monjib and six other journalists and activists, whose trial in connection with their defence of media freedom and human rights in Morocco will resume in Rabat with RSF in attendance.

They are being tried on serious charges that range from receiving illegal foreign funding to endangering state security, but they have not been detained. The charges were brought against them after they organized training in investigative reporting.

Monjib and four of the other defendants – Samad Ayach, Hicham El Mansouri, Rachid Tarek and Maria Moukrim are journalists or regular contributors to Moroccan media outlets such as Lakome2 and Zamane, and all are members of the Moroccan Association of Investigative Journalism (AMJI).

The other two defendants are Hicham Khreibchi, better known as Hicham Al-Miraat, who used to run the Digital Rights Association (ADN) and Mohamed Essabeur, who heads the AMJI.

If the charges are confirmed, they are facing the possibility of one to five years in prison under article 206 of Morocco’s penal code. As a result of repeated harassment by the authorities, three of the defendants – Mansouri, Ayach and Miraat – have left the country and could be tried in absentia.

We are in Rabat to reiterate our unwavering support for these seven journalists and media freedom defenders, who should not be on trial,” said Paul Coppin, the head of RSF’s legal committee. “The Moroccan authorities must drop the charges against them and stop gagging the media.”

Since opening on 19 November 2015, the trial has already been postponed five times, which in itself constitutes a form of psychological torture.

Morocco has fallen to 133rd position in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.