Driss Chahtan

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Driss Chahtan holds his daughter while being taken to prison. He was released a day before his wife had their second child. (Abdelwahid Mahir)

On Friday evening, after receiving an unexpected royal pardon, Driss Chahtan, the editor of the independent weekly Al-Michaal, was released from Oukacha Prison in Casablanca. However, his release is one of the few positive developments amid many alarming cases of worsening press conditions in Morocco.

At the Casablanca Appeals Court, left to right: Driss Chahtan's lawyer, Said Ben Hommani; Al-Mishaa's Mustapha Rayhan; Kamel Labidi; Al-Mishaal's Hassan Ain al-Hayat; Chahtan's wife, Sihem, and daughter, Saberina. (CPJ)

Two weeks ago, Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator, and I were in Morocco to hold meetings with government officials as well as journalists. In some ways the trip was a success, but in other ways it left much to be desired from a country that claims to be “at the forefront of liberalization in the region,” to borrow language used by Morocco’s Communication Minister Khalid Naciri in his meeting with CPJ on February 19.

Top Developments
• Authorities censor, jail journalists to silence coverage of the royal family.
• Politicized courts issue heavy defamation awards.

Key Statistic
100,000: Copies of two weeklies destroyed by authorities because they carried a poll about the king.


As King Mohammed VI marked his first decade on the Alawite throne, his government moved aggressively to censor coverage of the royal family and silence other critical news reporting, fueling deep concern about the future of independent journalism in this North African nation.

136 journalists jailed worldwide

As of December 1, 2009    |   » Read the accompanying report: "FREELANCERS UNDER FIRE"

Driss Chahtan holds his daughter while being taken to prison. (Abdelwahid Mahir)New York, October 16, 2009—The Committee to Protect Journalists strongly condemns the decision of a Rabat court Thursday to imprison the managing editor of Al-Michaal newspaper for one year
New York, September 30, 2009—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the closure of a Moroccan independent daily amid an escalating government campaign to silence critical journalists. On Tuesday, police prevented Taoufik Bouachrine, managing publisher and editor of the daily Akhbar al-Youm, and dozens of staff members from entering the offices of the Casablanca-based newspaper.

New York, June 15, 2009--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by defamation charges filed against a Moroccan editor by a group that represents close relatives of King Mohammed VI. A Casablanca court has summoned the editor to appear on Tuesday.

8 results