A Moroccan editor who was jailed for a month last year will launch a new website if the kingdom’s government does not end blocking of his previous news portal.
Ali Anouzla, editor of the news website Lakome, announced Feb. 19 that his new site, Lakome2, will be launched within “weeks” the Associated Press reported.
Anouzla was arrested on Sept. 17 and charged with aiding terrorism after his site published an article reporting on an al-Qaida video criticizing Morocco and its king. Authorities used the country’s 2003 anti-terrorism law to charge Anouzla, and he appeared before a court that handles terrorism cases.
A month later on Oct. 17, Anouzla was released from jail on bail, and authorities blocked his website. His trial is incomplete, and his most recent appearance before the investigating judge was postponed. The next session is set for May 20.
“The authorities are clearly stalling, both by not responding to Anouzla’s request for the censorship to be lifted and by repeatedly postponing his appearance before an investigating judge,” said Lucie Morillon, head of research for the press group Reporters Without Borders, in a statement.
According to the World Press Freedom Index 2014, Morocco ranks 136 out of 180 countries based on freedom of the press.
Article 28 of Morocco’s 2011 constitution guarantees freedom of the press and says it cannot be subject to “any form of prior censorship.”
However a press law bars journalists from criticism of Islam, the royal family or the disputed status of neighboring Western Sahara. The press law bans criticism of Islam, the monarchy or other taboo subjects such as the royal family and status of Western Sahara, according to Freedom House.
Moroccan Journalists typically adhere to the law in order to avoid fines, prison sentences or various forms of intimidation, but some, like Anouzla, continue to report on sensitive topics.
By Lexie Cartee.