It will be a milestone… The exceptional Humanity evening held on Monday, October 25 at the Paris labor exchange marked a highlight in the defense of the freedom to inform. Citizen mobilization was at the rendezvous, in support of the newspaper sued for “defamation” by the Kingdom of Morocco. The reason ? Our colleague Rosa Moussaoui, senior reporter, has for years dared to denounce the repressive practices of the Moroccan state through her writings on the Rif revolts in 2017 and on the Sahrawi question. But above all, she helped shed light on the scandal of the Pegasus spyware, used by Morocco to monitor, intimidate and lock up journalists and their sources. She is one of the many French journalists, along with our colleagues from Le Monde, Radio France and Mediapart, to have been targeted by Morocco. Our newspaper therefore filed a complaint. But, far from recognizing its error, its very fault, Morocco counter-attacked by suing our newspaper and several others for “defamation”.
Monday, on the eve of the preliminary hearing, a great evening of support for Humanity was therefore held. The room was packed, and speeches, explanations, decryption and analyzes followed one another. Several revealing anecdotes of practices that violate dignity, individual freedoms and the secrecy of journalists’ sources scandalized the room. The cybersurveillance enterprise, via spyware developed by the Israeli company NSO, as revealed this summer by the Forbidden Stories association, Amnesty International and a consortium of 17 international media, is only the culmination of a large enterprise of submission of conscience in Morocco.
“The idea is to intimidate, track, track down, blackmail opponents, tell them that he can chase them out of his territory”, explains Madjid Zerrouky, journalist at Le Monde, member of the investigation collective. “This is a frontal attack against the work of journalists, endangering their sources”, adds Rosa Moussaoui who evokes “the pressures to dissuade critical pens, insults and infamous comments in the press of defamation linked to power ”. Refugee in France, Hicham Mansouri, co-founder of the Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism (Amji), reviews the trials and serial convictions of journalists on the basis of “invented files”, manipulations and searches in life private. Moroccan services are masters in these arrangements made available to justice. Many journalists in Morocco have paid the price: among them, Soulaimane Raissouni, Taoufik Bouachrine, Omar Radi, thrown in prison after long preventive detentions, gagged following their investigations into the abuses of Moroccan power and its customer base.
They can no longer speak, and beware of foreign colleagues who dare to take over. The pharmacies of the palace have a long arm, they maneuver in Morocco, as in France, in peace. “The media must be protected against pressure and threats from foreign powers,” insists Pierre Laurent, Communist vice-president of the Senate. Also present during the evening, the PCF deputy for Seine-Maritime, Jean-Paul Lecoq, relates the police obstacles during one of his missions to the Sahrawis, on the eve of the violent dismantling of the Gdeim Izik protest camp, in the occupied territories. This parliamentarian called on the government to the National Assembly on Tuesday: “Where does this lack of reactions come from which gives free rein to these States which can do what they want with Palestine and Western Sahara, in contempt?” total of international law? Is it because of the trips of convenience offered by Morocco or by the Elnet company in Israel? “” Legal proceedings are underway … “replied the executive.
In reality, the Élysée is content only to negotiate with Israel commitments on the non-targeting by NSO of French telephone numbers. Tel Aviv is getting away with it after turning a blind eye to the globalized use of Pegasus. The kingdom of Morocco, for its part, retains its impunity in France. He can afford the luxury of “gagging procedures” to try “to dry up the resources” of a media with insane complaints, specifies Joseph Breham, lawyer of Humanity, experienced in the treatment of this type of cases. According to him, the complaint is unlikely to be “admissible” and to defeat the common sense of the judges. “We are not afraid! »Hammers at the end of this evening Fabien Gay, director of Humanity, assuring that the publication will continue, in all circumstances, its information work. He calls on the United Nations “for a treaty banning these cyber weapons”. No, Jaurès’ diary will not fold.
Tuesday, in front of the 17th chamber of the Paris court, where Patrick Le Hyaric pour l’Humanité appeared, the accumulation of complaints filed by the Kingdom of Morocco against French media was something dizzying, the enumeration alone saying the manifest desire to silence the media which have only published information of public utility. A question haunted this fixation hearing: Can a state, like an individual, sue media for defamation? No, clearly answers the case law, moreover cited by the public prosecutor, who expressed his intention to “raise the inadmissibility in all of these cases”. To settle this point, a new hearing has been set for December 6.