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France21 November 2008

France 3 journalist asked to reveal sources for report about Moroccan arrest warrants

Reporters Without Borders is exasperated to learn that Joseph Tual, a journalist with the French state-owned TV station France 3, was questioned yesterday by a court in Lille on suspicion of “violating professional confidentiality” in a report about new developments in the investigation into the 1965 disappearance of Moroccan opposition politician Medhi Ben Barka in Paris.

“It is outrageous that prosecutors are pressuring a journalist to name his sources for a report of a very political nature and at the same time are putting a judge in an embarrassing situation,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“The right to the confidentiality of sources allows Tual, like any other journalist, to remain silent,” the press freedom organisation continued. “This right is explicitly enshrined in the 1881 press law and is currently being debated in parliament. The decision to investigate a case such as this logically suggests that it is politically-motivated and punitive.”

Tual was summoned to a Lille court at 9:30 a.m. yesterday in response to a complaint brought by a retired senior Moroccan official, Miloud Tounsi, also known as “Larbi Chtouki,” in connection with a France 3 report broadcast on 22 October 2007, the day that French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived on a visit to Morocco.

The report revealed that French investigating judge Patrick Ramaël had issued five international warrants for the arrest of senior Moroccan officials in connection with Ben Barka’s disappearance.

Tounsi, who is suspected of organising Ben Barka’s abduction, did not respond to two summonses sent to him in connection with his complaint about the programme.

The investigating judge who questioned Tual yesterday asked him to reveal his sources for the report. Tual, who was accompanied by his lawyer, refused.

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