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Court bans "Al Masheel" newspaper

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, November 16, 2009 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) expressed concern over a recent decision by the prosecutor of the Court of First Instance in Casablanca. On 13 November 2009, the prosecutor banned "Al Masheel" newspaper on the grounds that the paper's former managing editor, Edriees Shahtan, is serving a prison sentence.

National Security forces have summoned the paper's editor-in-chief, Edriees Waleed El Qabla, to inform him of the prosecutor's decision to ban the newspaper.

Shahtan was sentenced to a year in prison and a 10,000 dirham fine (approx. 1,000 Euros) by Sella's Appeal Court after the publication of a number of articles on the health of King Mohammed VI. Two of the newspaper's journalists, Rasheed Mohamed and Mostafa Hiran, were also charged in the same case and sentenced to three months in prison and a 5,000 Dirham (approx. 440 Euros) fine each.

ANHRI recalls that "Akhbar El Youm" newspaper was banned in October after a member of the royal family objected to the publication of a cartoon about his wedding ceremony and filed a suit against the paper. The court did not have an opportunity to review the case, however, as the Ministry of the Interior intervened and issued a decision banning the newspaper. The newspaper has not been published since 29 September.

ANHRI is calling on the Moroccan government to cease harassing opposition newspapers and respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The government should allow opposing voices to express their views, in order for Morocco to maintain its position as a defender of press freedom in the Arab world.

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