Granted a conditional release on 23 March, Monjib is still being subjected to a great deal of pressure and surveillance and is still in very poor health. Tomorrow’s hearing will be yet another ordeal for him because the judicial harassment has not let up.
The court will continue hearing Monjib’s appeal against the sentence of a year in prison and fine of 15,000 dirhams (1,400 euros) that he received from a court in Rabat on 27 January on trumped-up charges of “fraud” and “undermining internal state security.”
“Maati Monjib is still suffering from the after-effects of the hunger strike he was forced to pursue in order to affirm his rights, and is still in very poor physical shape,” said Souhaieb Khayati, the head of RSF’s North Africa bureau. “We urge the Moroccan authorities to end the judicial persecution to which he has been subjected for more than five years, and to finally drop all of the trumped-up charges brought against him.”
Monjib was unable to attend the 27 January hearing at which the court nonetheless went ahead and convicted him. Because they had not been notified, his lawyers were not present either to hear the court issue its decision, which they and Monjib’s support committee condemned.
“This conviction is doubly unjust because neither my fellow defendants nor I have ever threatened ‘internal state security’ or committed any other crime except exercise our right to freedom of expression and association,” Monjib told RSF. It was in protest against his conviction that he began his 20-day hunger strike on 4 March.
Other journalists are also being subjected to judicial harassment in Morocco on various pretexts. Newspaper editor Suleiman Raissouni has been sentenced to five years in prison on a “sexual assault” charge, investigative reporter Omar Radi has been given a six-year jail term on “rape” and “espionage” charges, while Taoufik Bouachrine, the founder of the Arabic-language daily Akhbar al Yaoum, is serving a 15-year jail sentence on several sex charges that he has always denied.
Morocco is ranked 136th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.