(RSF/IFEX) - In a letter to Minister of the Interior Ahmed Midaoui, RSF protested the ban on the first issue of the private weekly "Al Ousboue wa al-Sahafi". RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard urged the minister "to annul this decision," and recalled that "since 1 January 2000, Moroccan authorities have imposed a circulation ban on eight newspapers, including two French papers - 'Jeune Afrique - L'intelligent' and 'Le Figaro'" (see IFEX alert of 21 March 2000).
According to information collected by RSF, on the night of 6 to 7 July, police surrounded the Attakattoul printer, in Casablanca, and prevented the publication of the first issue of the weekly "Al Ousboue wa al-Sahafi". No explanation was offered by the ministry of the interior to explain this action. On 3 May, Mustapha Alaoui, the weekly's editor, was sentenced to three months' imprisonment and banned from practicing journalism for a three-year period, "for libeling" Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaïssa (see IFEX alerts of 19 and 4 May 2000). He was pardoned by the king in late May.