A Moroccan judge has ordered a prominent writer and rights activist to be held in custody pending an investigation into money-laundering allegations, in a case that media freedom activists describe as harassment.
Maati Monjib, a university historian who writes frequent newspaper editorials, has denied the accusations. His arrest at a restaurant on Tuesday followed the jailing or detention of several other dissident journalists in recent months.
The prosecutor’s office said in October it was investigating Monjib on suspicion of money laundering.
Monjib has often denied wrongdoing in posts on his Facebook account and said he had been summoned several times by police to answer charges relating to alleged laundering of foreign funds.
At a hearing on Tuesday, a judge ordered he be kept behind bars during the investigation, the prosecutor’s office said.
“The Moroccan government appears to be banking on the world failing to notice its continued harassment of journalists over a holiday week,” said Justin Shilad from the Committee to Protect Journalists, an international rights group.
The government has denied waging a campaign against free speech and has said the police and courts are implementing national laws.
Two dissident journalists, Omar Radi and Soulimane Raissouni, have been in pretrial detention for months over charges including sexual assault which they deny.
Raissouni’s niece, journalist Hajar Raissouni, was last year charged with having premarital sex and having an illegal abortion in another case that campaigners saw as an attempt to target dissent.
She was later released via a royal pardon after an international outcry over the case.