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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press

JUNE 16, 2004
Posted: June 18, 2004

Tor Dagfinn Dommersnes, Stavanger Aftenbladet
Fredrik Refvem, Stavanger Aftenbladet

Dommersnes and Refvem, a reporter and photographer, respectively, with the Norwegian daily Stavanger Aftenbladet, were expelled from Morocco.

Dommersnes told CPJ that four plainclothes Moroccan security officers woke Refvem and him up in their hotel rooms in Rabat early in the morning and told them they had to leave the country immediately. One of the agents told Dommersnes that he had broken the law and was persona non grata in Morocco. The agents never specified an offense, but Dommersnes said an agent mentioned that the journalists had been reporting on the disputed Western Sahara, controlled by Morocco.

Dommersnes said the officers took Refvem and him to the central security police station in Rabat. No one questioned them, and Moroccan authorities never searched or confiscated any of their belongings. Dommersnes was allowed to call his editor from the hotel to report what had happened, and he was also able to call the Norwegian ambassador in Morocco, who attempted to intervene on the journalists' behalf.

Dommersnes said two officers then escorted Refvem and him onto the train from Rabat to Casablanca. The officers processed the journalists through passport control and customs and then put them on an airplane to Paris. Both journalists arrived in Norway safely.

Agence France-Presse, citing Moroccan communication ministry officials, reported that the two journalists were expelled for meeting with Ali Salem Tamek, a Western Sahara activist who has campaigned for a referendum on self-rule to be held in the territory. Dommersnes said he never interviewed Tamek, but he did call another Western Saharan activist from the hotel the previous evening to set up an interview with him.

A government spokesman cited by The Associated Press, who spoke condition of anonymity, said, "The two journalists concerned got themselves accredited for a story of a touristic nature, when in fact this story had political characteristics."

Dommersnes said that he and Revfem were accredited and that they were not told that their accreditation had any particular limitations.


JUNE 1, 2004
Pos ted: July 23, 2004

Anas Tadili, Akhbar Al-Osboue

Tadili, editor of the tabloid weekly Akhbar Al-Osboue, was sentenced to six months in prison for defamation for publishing an article in which he alleged that a Moroccan government official was a homosexual.

According to local journalists in Morocco, the weekly never identified the minister by name. The article alleged that police arrested the minister while he was involved in a homosexual encounter.

Mohamed Ziyyan, Tadili's lawyer, told CPJ that within days of the publication of the article on April 9, police in the capital, Rabat, summoned Tadili, but he was not immediately charged with defamation.

Ziyyan told CPJ that more a decade ago, Tadili had been convicted of violating Morocco's currency exchange laws because of a bank account he had opened in France and said that when police detained the journalist on April 15, he was told to pay the previous court-ordered fine immediately: 3.5 million dirhams ($400,000 US). Tadili was ordered to spend 10 months in prison since he did not have the money.

Ziyyan said that on May 16, while he was imprisoned, Tadili was charged with defamation based on the article. He was sentenced to six months in prison on June 1. Ziyyan said that there are other criminal defamation cases pending against Tadili.