Rachid Nini, Publisher and Editor of Almassae, the leading newspaper in Morocco, is in a Casablanca jail. He is awaiting trial for allegedly "attempting to influence the judiciary and reporting false allegations of criminal conduct."
Mr. Nini was first summoned for questioning by the Moroccan secret service, some four weeks ago, after he penned a long series of articles exposing corruption at various levels of the Moroccan Government.
Instead of investigating the corruption charges brought forth in Mr. Nini's articles against some of the most powerful people in the public sector, the Moroccan authorities are trying through threats and intimidation to silence this journalist whose only "crime" is his diligent efforts to expose corruption and the ongoing fleecing of the country's riches by a number of unscrupulous officials.
On top of it all, the prosecutor has refused to heed numerous calls, both national and international, to release Mr. Nini on bail while awaiting trial. The prosecutor is also adamant that this respected journalist be tried under Criminal Law, instead of the existing Printing and Publishing Law, knowing that he was jailed for articles and opinions he wrote in a lawful newspaper, as a recognized journalist.
This is an attempt to silence the press at a very crucial time for all freedom-loving people in Morocco and a blatant affront to all those who are fighting for greater transparency and better governance in Morocco.
This is a worthy cause which needs your prompt attention. Please raise Mr. Nini's case with the White House and the US Department of State, requesting their urgent intervention with the Moroccan authorities to free Mr. Nini and respect the rights to which he is entitled as a human being and as a journalist.
Last Thursday, the defense team stormed out of the courtroom chanting slogans decrying what they termed as a kangaroo court. Against all odds, this sham trial continues and Rachid Nini was not released after 35 days behind bars. The court decision is expected to be announced next Thursday.
Rachid Nini has been jailed for having penned a series of articles in Almassae Newspaper exposing cases of alleged corruption and embezzlement at the highest levels of the Moroccan government.
Dozens of national and international human rights organizations have joined the chorus of protests demanding the release of Mr. Nini who was tried and sentenced under Moroccan criminal law instead of the existing laws governing the media.
Mr. Nini was sentenced last June to one year in prison. So far, none of the pleas by national and international pleas on his behalf have been heeded.
This is why we turn to you to ask that you elevate the pressure on the Moroccan government to bring about the release of Mr. Nini who should have been fairly tried under the existing Printing and Publishing laws of Morocco--not under common law.
We are asking the State Department to push for an inquiry and show an interest in the case.