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Moroccan authorities rely on a stealthy system of judicial and financial controls to keep journalists in check, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) concludes in "The Moroccan Façade", a report issued on 3 July 2007.

The report follows a 10-day CPJ mission in April to Rabat and Casablanca. A series of court cases over the last two years have hit at least five Moroccan journalists with large financial penalties, handed suspended jail terms to five, and banned one from practising journalism.

Morocco's robust independent press has few rivals in the Middle East, yet press freedom has eroded in King Mohammed VI's eight-year reign, CPJ says. It now tags Morocco along with Tunisia as the Arab world's leading jailer of journalists, and in May designated Morocco as one of the world's ten worst backsliders on press freedom.

Unlike some neighboring countries' blunt repression, Moroccan authorities have exploited third-party lawsuits and a politicised judiciary, the report says. They have also instigated advertising boycotts, used state media to attack critics, and covertly planned "demonstrations" against critical newspapers.

To read the full report in English, visit:
In French:
(10 July 2007)

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