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Morrocan Newsmagazines Shut Down

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    CPJ protests newspapers suspension Committee to Protect Journalists January 27, 2005 http://www.cpj.org/protests/05ltrs/Morocco27jan05pl.html - January 27,
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 2, 2005
      CPJ protests newspapers' suspension
      Committee to Protect Journalists
      January 27, 2005
      http://www.cpj.org/protests/05ltrs/Morocco27jan05pl.html

      -

      January 27, 2005

      TO: His Excellency Mohamed Bouzoubaa
      Minister of Justice
      Ministry of Justice
      Place de la Mamounia
      Rabat, Morocco

      Via facsimile: 212 37 73 07 72



      Your Excellency:

      The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply disturbed that the
      Ministry of Justice suspended two Arabic-language weeklies.
      According to press reports and local journalists, intelligence
      agents notified the editors of the Oujda-based weeklies Al-Sharq and
      Al-Hayat Al-Maghribiya on January 18 that they were to cease
      publication of their weeklies immediately for three months on order
      of the ministry.

      The order stemmed from an August 2003 court ruling suspending both
      papers for three months after Al-Hayat al-Maghribiya published an
      article in its May 5­May 20 issue that discussed the history of the
      Islamist movement in Morocco and its alleged relationship with the
      country's intelligence services. Al-Sharq reprinted the article in
      its June 5 edition.

      In addition, the court convicted editors Mohammed al-Herd and Abdel
      Majid Ben Taher, of Al-Sharq, and Mustapha Qashnini, of Al-Hayat al-
      Maghribiya, of "extolling the actions that comprise terrorism." Al-
      Herd was sentenced to three years in prison, and Ben Taher and
      Qashnini were sentenced to one year each.

      In January 2004, King Mohammed VI pardoned all three journalists,
      along with editor Ali Lmrabet, of the satirical weeklies Demain and
      Douman. Lmrabet's publications were banned and he was imprisoned in
      May 2003 for "insulting the king" and "challenging the territorial
      integrity of the state." After the pardon, Lmrabet left Morocco and
      his two weeklies never resumed publication.

      According to local sources, the January 18, 2005, suspension of Al-
      Hayat al-Maghribiya was prompted when Lmrabet, who recently returned
      to Morocco, attempted to apply for a new license to publish again.
      Lmrabet told CPJ that authorities have refused to let him apply for
      a license.

      Agence France-Presse reported yesterday that state prosecutors
      claimed that the king's pardon did not cover all four newspapers'
      suspensions. As a result, officials not only denied Lmrabet his
      license but revived the suspension order against Al-Hayat al-
      Maghribiya and Al-Sharq. The revival of the suspensions of Al-Sharq
      and Al-Hayat Al Maghribiya more than a year after the king issued
      pardons is a troubling step backward for press freedom in Morocco.

      Your Excellency, we urge you to lift the suspension orders against
      the publications so they can resume publication immediately. We also
      call on you to do everything in your power to ensure that Ali
      Lmrabet is able to resume publishing.

      We look forward to your attention to these important matters.

      Sincerely,

      Ann Cooper
      Executive Director


      http://www.cpj.org/protests/05ltrs/Morocco27jan05pl.html

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