Reporters Without Borders is relieved that Rachid Nini, the editor of the Moroccan daily Al-Massae, was finally released in apparently good health on 28 April from Casablanca’s Oukacha prison after completing a one-year jail sentence. The many requests for his early release were all rejected and he was made to serve the entire sentence.
“Nini’s conviction and sentencing under the criminal code, rather than the media law, was a major setback for media freedom in Morocco, especially as it came at a time when the govenrment was announcing political reforms,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“We hope that that his release will be a milestone in the history of the media in Morocco and that, as part of the reform of the media law that the authorities announced in May 2011, journalists will never against be jailed in connection with their activities.”
Nini expressed the same hope when he spoke to the media immediately after his release.
Arrested on 28 April 2011 after irritating the authorities by publishing stories about Moroccan intelligence chief Abdellatif Hammouchi, Nini was subjected to a trial in Casablanca that was marked by judicial intransigence, repeated adjournments and a refusal to free him on bail.
He was finally sentenced on 9 June 2011 to a year in prison and a fine of 1,000 dirhams (90 euros) on charges of disinformation and attacking state institutions, public figures and the “security and integrity of the nation and citizens” under articles 263, 264 and 266 of the criminal code. The sentence was upheld on appeal on 14 October.