Moroccan journalists in court

Prosecutors call for the jailing of two editors who published political jokes.

    Driss Ksikes, left, may be jailed for up to five years [AFP]

    "It appears that today we are being pursued over the jokes themselves, which were not of our making. It's a little absurd," he said.
     
    The verdict is due on January 15.
     
    The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said the Nichane ban was politically motivated, with the government keen to prove its religious credentials before elections this year in which an opposition Islamist party may make strong gains.
     
    Large fines
     
    Morocco's press is viewed abroad as one of the freest in the Arab world, and several independent titles regularly criticise government officials and attack corruption or nepotism.
     
    But journalists can still be hauled before a judge for undermining the monarchy, the king's role as guardian of Islam or questioning Morocco's "territorial integrity", meaning its claim over the Western Sahara, which it annexed in 1975.
     
    Government critics say the authorities still keep the press in check by handing out hefty fines to publications that push the boundaries too far.
     
    Another magazine, Le Journal Hebdomadaire, has said it faces closure if the courts enforce the country's biggest fine yet for defamation.
     
    The magazine had suggested that a report highly critical of the Western Sahara separatist Polisario movement had been made at the behest of the Moroccan authorities.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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