Another political fine against Morocco's independent press

Update: I've made a mistake here — this is from 2009, not a recent conviction. It doesn't take away from the outrageous nature of the original fine, but sorry about the mistake. I'll be more careful next time.

This is really scandalous, when you think about it: a publisher takes a competitor to court for being "unpatriotic" by reporting on a crime involving a relative of the king's. From CPJ:

On Monday, a court in Casablanca sentenced Managing Editor Ali Anouzla and Publishing Director Jamal Boudouma of the independent daily Al-Jarida al-Oula to two-month suspended jail terms each and a fine of 200,000 dirhams (US$24,190) for "defamation" and "insulting the judiciary," according to local news reports. Anouzla said his lawyer will appeal the ruling as soon as he receives a copy of the decision.

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.

They keep drilling in the message: don't even think of writing about the royal family, among other things Morocco's biggest economic actor.

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,