Crusading Moroccan journalist ready to found new website if authorities don't unblock previous

The Associated Press

Sitting with Khadija Ryadi of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, Moroccan editor Ali Anouzla, right, announces at a press conference in Rabat on Feb. 19, 2014 that he will launch another news website if authorities don't unblock his old one. Ali Anouzla, who was charged with advocating terrorism and aiding terrorists after his Lakome.com news site wrote about an al-Qaida video criticizing Morocco and its king, has kept a low profile since being freed on bail in October following a month in prison. (AP Photo/Paul Schemm)

Associated Press SHARE

By PAUL SCHEMM, Associated Press

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — A prominent Moroccan editor known for his taboo-breaking coverage said Wednesday he is ready to start another news website to replace the one blocked by authorities.

Ali Anouzla, who was charged with advocating terrorism and abetting terrorists after his Lakome.com news website wrote about an al-Qaida video criticizing Morocco and its king, has kept a low profile since being freed on bail in October following a month in prison.

The charges against him carry up to a 20 year jail sentence and the trial is ongoing, with the next session set for May 20. As part of his bail agreement the authorities blocked his website, but he has since asked them to have it restored.

"I am out on bail but that doesn't mean I can't practice my profession as a journalist," he said, explaining that if after a few weeks there was no response, he would launch Lakome 2. "If we launch a new site with a similar name and they block it, it will show the establishment's willingness for a free press."

Anouzla is known for his secular outlook, and many see the supporting terrorism charges as punishment for his past criticism of King Mohammed VI. In the media conference he condemned journalist and insisted on his support for freedom, tolerance and human rights.

Morocco, a popular tourist destination, is generally considered more stable and open than its North African neighbors, but it still ranks low on media freedom indexes.

However, in the past few years there has been an explosion in online journalism, with Anouzla's Lakome site leading the way.

Last year alone Anouzla's website broke the story of the king's accidental pardon of a convicted Spanish child molester, criticized the king's frequent trips to France, and broke with the official position on human rights monitoring in the annexed Western Sahara.

___

Associated Press reporter Smail Bellaoualli contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.