Morocco: Moroccan Journalist Hajar Raissouni Free At Last

Protesters hold up pictures of Hajar Raissoumi.
press release

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) welcomes the release of Hajar Raissouni, a Moroccan journalist held since 30 August who was sentenced on 30 September to a year in prison for seeking an "illegal abortion" and for "sexual relations outside marriage."

The Moroccan justice ministry announced yesterday that Raissouni has been pardoned by King Mohammed VI.

Raissouni has always insisted that the charges were "fabricated" and "politically motivated" and that they were above all prompted by her articles about persons detained in connection with the so-called "Hirak" protests in Morocco's northern Rif region in 2016 and 2017.

"We are relieved by Hajar Raissouni's release and we hope that no more Moroccan journalists find their private lives being exploited for political ends," said Souhaieb Khayati, the head of RSF's North Africa desk.

Morocco's pro-government media outlets subjected Raissouni to an intense smear campaign focusing on her private life.

Taoufik Bouachrine, a newspaper owner and editorialist who was arrested in February 2018, was sentenced in November 2018 to 12 years in prison on charges of human trafficking, abuse of power for sexual purposes, rape and attempted rape. Now prosecutors are trying to get his sentenced increased on appeal to 20 years in prison and a fine of 1 million dirhams (100,000 euros).

Morocco is ranked 135th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

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