Creating new perspectives since 2009

France: court sentences journalists for blackmailing King of Morocco 

March 15, 2023 at 10:48 am

French journalists Eric Laurent and Catherine Graciet [Twitter]

The Paris Criminal Court has sentenced French journalists Eric Laurent and Catherine Graciet to a one-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of €10,000 for their involvement in blackmailing King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

The case made international headlines in the summer of 2015 after it emerged that Laurent and Graciet had been arrested and accused of extorting €3 million from the monarch in order not to publish a book titled “The Predator King”.

At the time, the king’s lawyer, Eric Dupond-Moretti, said that the journalists had contacted Moroccan palace officials and informed representatives of the king that they had written the book. A first meeting was then arranged in Paris with a Moroccan lawyer.

According to Dupond-Moretti, Laurent said in the meeting, “For three million euros, I won’t publish the book I have written with Catherine Graciet.” Both of them were present, said Dupond-Moretti. “They signed a contract and received €80,000 in cash.” The pair were arrested as they left the restaurant “with the proceeds of their crime in their pockets,” he added.

READ: France hopes to strengthen strained ties with Morocco, Algeria

In 2017, the French Court of Cassation ruled that the recordings incriminating Laurent and Graciet were valid. The two defendants faced a possible five-year prison sentence and a fine of €75,000.

Laurent is a former correspondent for Radio France and Le Figaro, and the author of several books. He admitted before the Paris Criminal Court on Monday to a “moral wrongdoing” for “agreeing to be involved in this case”, but he rejected the allegation that he had committed “any criminal offence”.

According to Graciet, the Kingdom of Morocco’s representative had “seduced” her with his financial offer.