By Sana El Ouazi
Rabat – Saeed Kamali Dehghan, a journalist at the Guardian, was deported from Morocco on September 28 while covering the Hirak Rif protest movement in Al Hoceima. Moroccan authorities have said that Dehghan lacked official permission to practice journalism in the country.
The evening of Dehghan’s deportation, the British newspaper released a statement confirming the news.
“Saeed Kamala Dehghan is safe and well, and has returned to London. We are surprised that a respected Guardian correspondent reporting in Morocco was told to leave the country, and we are looking into the circumstances in more detail,” a Guardian spokesperson said.
Dehghan landed in Marrakech on September 25 to attend a forum on “Women in Africa,” before traveling directly to Al Hoceima, the epicenter of the unrest in the Rif, to write a report on the Hirak.
While speaking to activists in the city, he was approached and detained by police, according to local activist El Mortada Iaamracha.
“[Hirak activist] Nawal Benaissa and I met Mr. Kamali on Wednesday, in the Mercure hotel. We were talking about the situation of Al Hoceima and the conditions of the Hirak prisoners, when he was approached by plain clothed officers who asked him to join them. Since then there has been no news,” Iaamracha told Morocco World News.
Another activist said that Dehghan was then expelled from the country.
“After being interviewed in the police station, the journalist was brought on September 28 to Casablanca airport after a nine-hour road trip to take the plane back to London,” the activist.
Mohamed Laârej, the Minister of Culture and Communication, told MWN that the reporter had not received official approval to do journalism in the country.
“Mr. Kamali entered Morocco as a tourist, but he exploited his stay to carry out his work as a journalist without having any authorization,” the minister said.
Laârej stressed that “Morocco encourages journalists to do their work on the condition that they have permission. This year, for example, we gave more than 900 permits to foreign journalists.”
In late July, two Spanish journalists were expelled from Tetouan, northern Morocco for “filming without permission.” José Luis Navazo, director of Correo Diplomatico, which first reported the news, and Fernanado Sanz, a fellow writer for the Spanish-language publication, were taken from Navazo’s familial residence in Tetouan by the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN).
No information was given about the nature of filmed content.