Occupational Hazard

The Committee to Protect Journalists is reporting that Ali Anouzla and Jamal Boudouma, managing editor and publishing director of the Moroccan newspaper Al-Jarida Al-Oula, have received suspended jail sentences and large fines for “defamation” and “insulting the judiciary.” Specifically:

The lawsuit, the second in less than three months in regard to the same article, was filed by Khalil Hachemi Idrissi, publishing director of the daily French-language newspaper Aujourd’hui Le Maroc in January. Idrissi filed a previous lawsuit against Anouzla in September 2008, after the newspaper reported on an incident in which Hassan al-Yaqoubi, the spouse of King Muhammad VI’s aunt had shot and injured a traffic policeman who had stopped him.

“We urge the court of appeals to overturn this unjust ruling,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayam, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “This fine and another that was issued in January smack of political score-settling and are likely to bring down the newspaper if upheld by the court of appeals.”

So let me see if I get this straight: One prominent journalist sues another for defamation and wins. (And it just so happens that the latter was critical of the regime’s handling of the al-Yacoubi case.) The censorship machine is so well-oiled nowadays that the Moroccan government doesn’t need to do anything.

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