In Mauritania, Moroccan journalist expelled

New York, December 23, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Mauritanian authorities’ Wednesday decision to expel a Moroccan journalist from the country. The Mauritanian government gave no reason for their decision.

On Wednesday, Mauritanian authorities declared Abdelhafiz al-Baqali, the Moroccan Press Agency’s bureau chief, persona non grata, and ordered him to leave the country within 24 hours, news reports said. Al-Baqali is a Moroccan citizen who has been working in Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital, for two years, according to the London-based daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat.

“This unjustified expulsion violates the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s Executive Director. “At a time of rising tensions between the two countries, Mauritania should not be hindering the work of the press.”

The Mauritanian Journalists Syndicate and the National Union of the Moroccan Press released statements on Thursday condemning al-Baqali’s expulsion and calling the decision unjustified and a press freedom violation. The Mauritanian syndicate has asked authorities to disclose the circumstances of his expulsion.