Govt. Official Sues Journalists for Leaking Classified Documents

Rabat – Hakim Benchamas, speaker of Morocco’s House of Councilors sued four journalists and a member of the parliament after they “leaked classified information” to the media on the work of a fact-finding committee regarding the Moroccan pension fund.The public prosecutor of Rabat’s Court of First Instance has summoned Abdelhak Belashkar, director of Moroccan newspaper Akhbar Al Yaoum, Mohammed Ahddad, a journalist in Al Massae daily, and Kaoutar Zaki and Mohammed Sakhir, journalists at Al Jarida 24’s news website.  The journalist will attend the first hearing session on January 25, according to Moroccan daily Akhbar Al Yaoum. The court has also summoned parliamentary Abdelhak Hissan, a member of the House of Councilors for “disclosing secret information” and his involvement in “leaking information related to the work of the committee.”Benchamas sued the journalists and the MP for leaking confidential information about the findings of the ongoing investigation on alleged cases of corruption at the Moroccan Pension Fund (CMR).The proceedings were issued based on Article 14 of the 085.13 Organic Law. This law charges any person who is involved in leaking information on the fact-finding committee to MAD 1000 to MAD 10.000 fines as well as prison terms of one to five years.The complaint is also based on articles 446 and 129 of the Penal Code, which denounce complicity in cases of an offense classified as a crime and the disclosure of secret respectively. This is not the first time Benchamas files a complaint against journalists. Last summer, the judicial police summoned Sakhir and Zaki after a complaint filed by Benchamass for leaking information on the “imbalances in Morocco’s pension fund during the work of the parliamentary fact-finding commission,” according to Moroccan daily Akhbar Al Yaoum.Morocco’s House of Councillors (upper house of the Moroccan parliament) created the fact-finding committee on pension fund in 2016 at the request of the Democratic Confederation of Labour to investigate the financial works of pension funds.

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