New York, January 28, 2021 – The Court of First Instance in Rabat, Morocco, yesterday convicted Maati Monjib, co-founder of the Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism, of fraud and endangering state security, and sentenced him to one year in prison and a fine of 10,000 dirhams (US$1,116), according to news reports.
“The Moroccan government has been surveilling and harassing journalist Maati Monjib for years, and with this move to imprison him, authorities are telling us they can’t even bother with a pretense of press freedom,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Authorities must immediately release Monjib, drop all charges against him, and end their harassment of journalists.”
Monjib’s trial, first only for endangering state security, began in October 2015, and continued for years, as CPJ documented. He told CPJ in 2019 that he faced government surveillance; in October 2020, the National Brigade of Judicial Police also accused Monjib and four of his family members of money laundering, and interrogated them; and on December 28, 2020, authorities arrested Monjib while he was dining with a friend in Rabat.
Yesterday, the court also convicted exiled journalists Hichem Mansouri and Samad Ait Aïcha of endangering state security and sentenced them each, in absentia, to one year in prison and a fine of 5,000 dirhams (US$558), according to a statement by Ait Aïcha on Twitter.
CPJ emailed the Moroccan Ministry of Justice for comment on Monjib’s sentence but did not receive an immediate response.