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Morocco expels foreign journalists investigating child prostitution network

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 30 September 2016.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the expulsion of well-known Italian investigative journalists Luigi Pelazza and Mauro Pilay yesterday from Morocco and the confiscation of the video they had filmed.

Pelazza and Pilay, who work for the TV programme Le Lene, were arrested by ten plainclothes policemen in Marrakesh and were accused of not obtaining permission to investigate a child prostitution network in the city.

They were taken to Menara airport and were put on a flight back to Italy eight hours later, after their video material had been seized. When reached by RSF, the communications ministry chief of staff said he was not in a position to make a statement.

“These repeated expulsions are extremely shocking,” said Yasmine Kacha, the head of RSF's North Africa desk. “How much longer will the Moroccan authorities continue to use administrative pretexts to prevent journalists from covering sensitive stories?”

Pelazza said: “This censorship attempt will not prevent us from telling the truth about the prostitution of minors in Morocco. We were able to keep some of the material we shot and we will soon inform the public about the gravity of the situation.”

Their expulsion came just days ahead of much-awaited parliamentary elections scheduled for 7 October.

French journalists Martin Weill and Pierre Le Beau, who work for the Petit Journal current affairs programme on Canal + television, were expelled in April after being interrogated by the authorities about a report they were doing on a homophobic attack on a gay couple in Béni Mellal.

Morocco is ranked 131st out of 180 countries in RSF's 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

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