January 26, 2016 - Updated on March 8, 2016

RSF urges authorities to abandon trial against five journalists

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates its call for the withdrawal of all charges against five Moroccan journalists who – because they wrote articles critical of the government – are facing up to five years in prison on charges of “endangering state security and integrity” and receiving “illegal foreign funding.”

Their trial is due to start tomorrow in Rabat after being postponed on 19 November. The criminal charges brought against the five journalists, along with two other activists, are designed to suppress freedom of information and media freedom although these rights are guaranteed in Morocco by the 2011 constitution.

“The criminal proceedings against these journalists is outrageous,” said Yasmine Kacha, the head of RSF’s North Africa desk. “If the judicial system convicts them, it will do a great deal of harm to Morocco’s international image. We urge the authorities to abandon these proceedings altogether.”

The five journalists – Maati Monjib, Samad Ayach, Maria Moukrim, Rachid Tarik and Hicham El Mansouri – are all reporters or regular contributors to such Moroccan media outlets as Lakome2 and Zamane. They are also all members of the Moroccan Association of Investigative Journalism (AMJI).

The other two defendants are Hicham Khreibchi (also known as Hicham Al-Miraat), who used to head the Digital Rights Association (ADN), and Mohamed Essabeur, who heads the Moroccan Education and Youth Association (AMEJ).

Morocco is ranked 130th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.