Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Last week, journalist Mustapha Hormatallah and editor in chief Abderrahim Ariri, both of Al Watan Al An newspaper, were held in police custody for 96 hours, three days after the publication of a July 14 cover story on “Secret reports behind the state of alert in Morocco.” The article reproduced classified information, and a police raid on the paper’s offices allegedly turned up classified documents.

In the course of investigative work, journalists the world over try to get access to classified information, so the idea that obtaining these documents is a crime in itself is a little bizarre. An independent court system might have helped Ariri and Hormatallah regain their freedom, but don’t hold your breath. The case is likely to be influenced by politics.

Yesterday, a Casablanca court decided to charge but release Ariri on bail, while Hormatallah was taken to Okacha prison. The first hearing is scheduled for tomorrow; they risk prison terms of one to five years. The journalists have received support from their colleagues and from human rights organizations across the board. You can send the paper a note of support here.

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