Crusading Moroccan journalist says govt admits to shutting down his daring news website

RABAT, Morocco – Morocco’s media regulator has banned a taboo-breaking news website, its editor said Friday, threatening to go on a hunger strike to reopen it.

Ali Anouzla is out on bail after a month in prison on terrorism charges after his website wrote about an al-Qaida video that criticized Morocco. While in prison he asked that the website be temporarily shut down, but now authorities have refused to reopen it.

Anouzla is known for his secular outlook and many see the supporting terrorism charges as punishment for his criticism of King Mohammed VI. The charges against Anouzla carry up to a 20-year jail sentence and the next session in his trial is May 20.

Morocco, a popular tourist destination, is more stable and open than its North African neighbours but it still ranks low on media freedom indexes. In the past few years, however, there has been an explosion in online journalism, with Anouzla’s website seen as the most daring in Morocco’s docile media landscape.