Moroccan blogger does jail time over minister drug ring slur

Moroccan blogger sentenced to prison, minister linked to drugs

Suggesting links between a minister and a drug trafficking network has earnt a Moroccan blogger two years in prison, according to AFP.

Mohamed Reda Taoujini was sentenced to two years in prison and fined almost $2,000 by a Moroccan court on the 21st February, for suggesting a connection between Justice Minister Abdellatif Ouahbi, and a drug trafficking network.

Minister Ouahbi filed two complaints against Taoujini which resulted in The Court of First Instance finding the blogger guilty of “insulting a public official” and “defamation.” Ouahbi has also filed complaints against three other journalists who came to similar conclusions.

In January last year, Ouahbi was at the centre of a nepotism scandal regarding the pass rate of Morocco’s bar exam. Student protests took to the streets of Rabat to demonstrate their outrage and call for Ouahbi’s resignation.

Taoujini is one of many individuals to be subject to the “ongoing crackdown” of online and offline expression in Morocco. In 2022, at least seven journalists and activists were prosecuted and imprisoned for criticising the government, according to Amnesty International.

READ: Morocco’s Unique Approach to Journalist Suppression

For many Moroccans, security chief, Abdellatif Hammouchi is seen as the instigator of the recent crackdown on freedom of expression as numerous journalists have been subject to false sex allegations and incarceration after criticising Moroccan royalty or Hammouchi himself, according to the Human Rights Watch.

Two of the most notable arrests are that of Moroccan journalists, Omar Radi and Soulaimane Raissouni. Both faced multiple charges including sexual assault and were imprisoned after writing articles about corruption in Morocco which subsequently lost Morocco billions of dollars in foreign investment and damaged the country’s global reputation.

Titled “Escobar of the Sahara”, the drug scandal is the first case in North Africa to involve high-profile political figures.

In December 2023, two officials from the minister’s Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) were arrested for their involvement in the trafficking ring during an investigation.

The investigation resulted in 20 of the 25 people – who were suspected of corruption and the “possession, marketing and export of drugs,” – being detained.

All suspects are thought to be in cahoots with international drug trafficker, Hadj Ahmed Ben Brahim. Ben Brahim is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in Morocco for his crimes.

In 2015, 40 tonnes of cannabis resin was seized in trucks belonging to Ben Brahim, which led to his arrest in 2019.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

[mc4wp_form id="206"]