November 20, 2013 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Obama must raise Anouzla case during King Mohammed VI’s visit

Reporters Without Borders hopes that the worrying state of media freedom in Morocco and, in particular, journalist Ali Anouzla’s continuing prosecution under an anti-terrorism law will be raised when Morocco’s King Mohammed VI travels to the United States on 22 November and meets with President Barack Obama. The two leaders are already scheduled to discuss combatting terrorism and the transitions to democracy in Northern Africa and the Middle East during their talks in Washington. “The Anouzla case is typical of the draconian measures that are taken in the name of combatting terrorism,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We are concerned about the readiness of the Moroccan authorities to treat journalistic reporting as incitement to commit acts of terrorism. The judicial proceedings still pending against Anouzla constitute a real danger to freedom of information in Morocco. We again call on the authorities to drop all the charges against this journalist.” The editor of the Arabic-language version of the news website Lakome, Anouzla was arrested in Rabat on 17 September for posting a link to an article in the Spanish daily El País, which in turn had a link to a video attributed to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Anouzla was freed on 25 October after more than five weeks in “preventive detention” but continues to face a possible sentence of 10 to 30 years in prison on various charges including providing “material assistance” to a terrorist organization and “defending terrorist crimes.” He is next due to appear before the investigating judge in charge of the case on 23 December, when the judge should decide whether he will be tried under the anti-terrorism law or the press code. Reporters Without Borders wrote to US Secretary of State John Kerry on 6 November to draw his attention to the situation of freedom of information in Morocco ahead of the visit he had planned to make to Rabat. As Kerry’s visit was cancelled, it is essential that President Obama should raise the reforms needed to guarantee freedom of information, one of the foundations of a democratic system, when he meets with King Mohammed VI.