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
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.