Morocco expels French journalists over lack of permits

AP News
Posted: Feb 16, 2015 8:36 AM

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Morocco expelled two French journalists on Monday for filming without the required permits and for what the government called "suspicious and illegal" actions.

The journalists were taken by police Sunday evening from the headquarters of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights as they were preparing to conduct an interview, the group's executive director, Youssef Raissouni, said.

"The police forcibly entered the premises of the association and took away the journalists, causing a big disturbance in the neighborhood," Raissouni said. The group said more than 40 plainclothes officers surrounded the building, refusing to present identification or permission to enter the premises.

The two were forced to leave the country on Monday.

An Interior Ministry statement late Sunday said the men's cameras were seized after they engaged in "suspicious and illegal" actions and violated laws covering video journalists. It did not provide further details.

French media identified the men as Jean-Louis Perez and Pierre Chautard from the Premieres Lignes agency and said they were filming a documentary about Morocco's economy for the France 3 channel.

The Ministry of Communication issued its own statement late Sunday saying they never granted the men the filming permissions that are required in Morocco and that they never received a request to film.

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Reporters without Borders says press freedoms are weak in Morocco. In its 2014 World Press Freedom index, Morocco ranked in spot 136, with one being the country with the freest press and 154 the country with the least press freedom.

On Jan. 23, Moroccan authorities stopped the filming of a program for French news channel France 24 also for not having the necessary permissions.