- Morocco has deported two French journalists, Quentin Müller and Thérèse Di Campo, who work for the magazine Marianne.
- The journalists claimed they were forcibly removed from their hotel room in Casablanca by plainclothes police and put on a flight to Paris.
- Tensions between Morocco and France have escalated, with Rabat recalling its ambassador to France earlier this year, as well as the recent dispute over the coordination of aid following an earthquake in Morocco.
Two French journalists were expelled from Morocco this week in a move denounced by media and press freedom advocates.
Reporter Quentin Müller and freelance photojournalist Thérèse Di Campo, who work for the weekly magazine Marianne, said on Wednesday that 10 plainclothes policemen forcibly took them from their hotel room in Casablanca and put them on the first flight to Paris.
Both Müller and Stéphane Aubouard, editor of Marianne, said the expulsions were politically motivated in response to critical reporting.
Morocco denied the charge and said their removal was a matter of procedure, not politics. However, media activists described it as the latest action taken by Moroccan authorities against journalists.
In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Müller linked their deportations to wider concerns about reprisals against journalists in Morocco.
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“We were removed and forcibly expelled from the country without any explanation. This speaks volumes about the repressive atmosphere in Morocco,” he said, noting that he and Di Campo — neither based in Morocco — had traveled to the country to follow critical reporting on the rule of King Mohammed VI, a topic considered taboo in the North African nation.
In a follow-up article, Aubouard said the two went to Morocco after this month’s devastating earthquake that killed nearly 3,000 people. He said the deportations “confirm the difficulty foreign and local journalists have working in the country.”
Morocco has drawn some international condemnation in recent years for what many see as its efforts to crack down on press freedoms. At least three Moroccan journalists who have been critical of government actions are in prison, convicted of crimes unrelated to journalism.
The Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders denounced the deportations to X, with the latter describing them as a “brutal and impermissible attack on press freedom.”
Moroccan government spokesman Mustafa Baytas said Thursday that the deportations were procedural and not political. He said none of the journalists had sought accreditation, which is required of journalists under Moroccan law.
Baitas said Müller and Di Campo entered the country as tourists. “They neither requested accreditation nor declared their intention to engage in journalistic activities,” he told reporters at a news conference in Rabat on Thursday.
“Our nation firmly upholds the values of freedom and transparency and is committed to allowing all journalists to carry out their duties with complete freedom,” he added.
The deportations come amid wider criticism of French media in Morocco.
In a separate development on Wednesday, Morocco’s National Press Council issued a formal complaint to France’s Journalism Ethics and Mediation Council against two media outlets, the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and the daily Libération, saying their reporting had violated ethical rules and spread fake news during the attack. Morocco and its institutions for dealing with the earthquake.
Tensions have recently flared between Morocco and France, with Rabat recalling the kingdom’s ambassador to France earlier this year without sending a replacement.
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After the earthquake, France was not among the four countries chosen by Morocco for search and rescue assistance – a move that was scrutinized in both French and international media. French President Emmanuel Macron in a video on social media later appealed for an end to the confrontations that are “dividing and complicating” things at “such a tragic moment”.
The kingdom’s interior ministry had warned that an outpouring of poorly coordinated aid “would be counterproductive” and said it planned to accept aid later.