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Morocco: Journalists slam EU criticism of freedom of press in country

Moroccan Activists chant slogans during a protest demanding the release of Moroccan journalist Soulaimane Raissouni, who was sentenced to five years in prison for 'sexual assault', in the capital Rabat on July 10, 2021 [FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images]
Moroccan activists chant slogans during a protest demanding the release of Moroccan journalist in the capital Rabat on July 10, 2021 [FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images]

Morocco's National Press Council on Friday condemned the European Union (EU) Parliament's latest criticism of freedom of the press in the North African country, Anadolu Agency reported.

The council stated: "This is a desperate attempt to serve geostrategic agenda in favour of European sides."

On Thursday, the MEPs urged Morocco to: "Respect freedom of expression and media freedom" and to "guarantee imprisoned journalists (…) a fair trial."

Morocco did not officially react to the EU Parliament's decision, but Moroccan pro-government media labelled it "interference" and "extortion".

The National Press Council criticised the EU, stating it: "Longs for the domination [it had over Morocco] in the past." The council also questioned the timing of the decision, which relates to cases dating back to 2021 and 2022.

Meanwhile, the council pointed out that the country is experiencing normal conditions, and there is no need for foreign political interference regarding the freedom of the press or human rights.

READ: UN Special Rapporteur postpones visit to Morocco due to a disagreement with the authorities

The council confirmed that the EU's decision is related to three journalists sentenced over charges of rape, espionage and other sexual abuses.

It also asserted that the EU issued its decision based on: "Inaccurate reports from foreign organisations that are often biased and systematically seek to undermine Morocco's image."

The council concluded: "It is noteworthy that European countries and organisations are especially careful to ensure justice is served in the legal cases involving rape and sexual assault allegations. However, this principle was not observed for the victims who sought justice in Morocco."

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