At least 10 police officers raided Mansouri’s home in the Agdal neighborhood of the capital, Rabat, and arrested him on March 17, 2015, according to news reports. Police beat and stripped him and did not give a reason for his arrest.
Mansouri is a journalist and press advocate who works as a project manager with the Rabat-based Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism (AMJI), which supports journalists working on sensitive or taboo issues in the country. During his trial, he told the court that before his arrest he was investigating allegations that Moroccan authorities were conducting Internet surveillance of activists and journalists, Samad Iach, Mansouri’s colleague at AMJI, told CPJ.
Mansouri was tried on charges of adultery and starting a brothel. On March 30, 2015, a Rabat court convicted him of adultery and sentenced him to 10 months in prison and a fine of US$4,340, news reports said. An appeals court upheld the sentence on May 27, 2015.
Iach, and Mansouri’s lawyer, Abdelaziz Noueydi, told CPJ that Mansouri had been targeted by Moroccan authorities to punish him for his work. Noueydi told CPJ that charges of adultery have been used by authorities in the past to tarnish the reputations of journalists and government critics.
Noueydi said that Mansouri’s arrest was based on a police report issued on February 10, 2015, a copy of which CPJ obtained, that claimed his doorman and neighbors had reported he was using his apartment for prostitution. In March, the doorman and 14 of the 17 neighbors listed in the report made statements to the court denying they ever made the claim, Maati Monjib, head of Freedom Now, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that defends prisoners of conscience, told CPJ. Noueydi said that based on the court testimony, the brothel charge against Mansouri was dropped.
Mansouri was arrested with a woman whom news reports later identified as a romantic partner. Police said they caught the journalist naked, but Noueydi told CPJ that security forces had stripped the journalist during the arrest to make it seem as if he were engaged in adultery. Adultery is a criminal offense under Morocco’s penal code and is punishable by up to a year in prison.
The journalist faces a separate trial, along with six other journalists and human rights workers, on charges of threatening state security in relation to his work as a journalist and press freedom advocate, according to CPJ research and news reports. If convicted, he could face an additional sentence of up to five years in prison.
Mansouri began waging a hunger strike in prison on September 30, 2015, to protest prison authorities’ refusal to allow him medical treatment for persistent problems with his teeth, according to news reports. He was being held in Zaki prison in the city of Sale.