CPJ urges Moroccan king to free blogger

September 12, 2008

His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco ‎
C/o His Excellency Aziz Mekouar, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco ‎
to the United States of America
‎1601 21st Street NW‎
Washington, D.C. 20009‎

Via Fax: 202-265-0161‎

Your Majesty, 

The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to bring to your attention the decision of a ‎Moroccan court to jail and fine blogger and journalist Mohamed Erraji for “failing to respect the ‎king.” We call on you to use all your influence to ensure the overturning of Erraji’s conviction. ‎

The court in Agadir, in southwest Morocco, convicted Erraji on Monday in a closed trial, ‎sentencing him to two years imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 dinars (US$626), according to his ‎family and local news reports. Erraji, 29, is a contributor to HesPress, a Moroccan daily news ‎Web site, and keeps a blog at Almassae.maktoobblog.com. ‎

The trial lasted barely 10 minutes, and Erraji did not have a defense lawyer, HesPress reported. ‎On Thursday, the court of appeal in Agadir granted Erraji bail until the appeal is heard next ‎week. ‎

On September 3, Erraji published an article on HesPress criticizing rewards given to people who ‎praise the government. He wrote: “We need to admit that what has destroyed our country and ‎made it plummet to this embarrassing level in all international rankings is this economy of ‎dispersing gratuities, which benefits the lucky sons and daughters of this country and overlooks ‎the rest.”‎

Erraji was interrogated by security police in Agadir for seven hours on September 4, a member ‎of his family told CPJ. He was allowed to go home after the interrogation but was asked to return ‎to the office the following day. When he went back on September 5, he was arrested. ‎

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. ‎

Sincerely yours,

Joel Simon
Executive Director