Police arrested Lhaisan, a reporter for Rasd TV, outside his home on July 4, 2014, according to news reports. Rasd TV, which is affiliated with the Sahrawi people in the Western Sahara region, broadcasts from Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria and is owned by the Polisario Front, a national liberation movement composed of native Sahrawis and supported by neighboring Algeria.
Lhaisan had reported on police abuse during the forced dispersal of Sahrawi demonstrators on June 30 after Algeria’s performance in the World Cup, according to Rasd TV and local news reports. He was charged with protesting illegally, obstructing traffic, and attacking police officers, according to news reports. He is being held at Lekhal prison in the northern city of Laayoune.
On July 21, 2014, authorities denied Lhaisan bail, according to news reports citing his family. On November 5, a Laayoune criminal court extended Lhaisan’s administrative detention to December 10, according to local news.
Lhaisan’s family said in a news conference, published on YouTube, that Lhaisan had been arrested in retaliation for his criticism of police abuse during the demonstrations. They said police surrounded their house after his arrest to discourage his colleagues from protesting.
On September 19, 2014, the Union of Saharawi Journalists and Writers reported that Lhaisan was waging a hunger strike to protest his detention and ill treatment.
Coverage of the Western Sahara is one of the most sensitive issues in Morocco, according to CPJ research. The Moroccan government has blocked coverage of Sahrawi protests since 2004. Foreign journalists were expelled from the area in 2010 when the city erupted in anti-government protests.