Without a warrant or any legal basis, plain-clothed Moroccan authorities entered a training session, by Free Press Unlimited and AMEJ in Marrakesh, and confiscated smart phones from all of the participants. They informed the journalist trainers that they would return the phones after 24 hours. However, the next day the police took the phones to the 'Judicial Police' office in Casablanca. Free Press Unlimited urgently requests the Moroccan authorities to return the phones that rightfully belong to Free Press Unlimited.
Until today, one month later, the Moroccan police have not given Free Press Unlimited any information on the status of the case. Free Press Unlimited is working with the support of the Dutch Embassy and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to retrieve the phones from the authorities.
Free Press Unlimited condemns the confiscation of the phones by the Moroccan police and the disruption of the training. The smart phones were the critical element of the training on which professional and citizen journalists and bloggers would be able to create stories and do assignments to successfully finish the program.
The StoryMaker training
Free Press Unlimited and AMEJ organized a four day training as part of the StoryMaker project for 25 journalists, citizen journalists and bloggers in Marrakesh, Morocco from June 9-12. The goal of the training was to teach professional skills related to photography, audio, video storytelling and journalism safety.
Part of the training was to teach participants how to use a newly developed app designed to improve mobile journalism. Each participant received a smart phone on which they would learn how to use the app and produce stories.
The general objective of StoryMaker is to bridge the gap and distrust between the “new digital media” generation and the “old school” media generation by creating better cooperation, increase the downward accountability of media and improve the delivery of timely, accurate and relevant information to the general public.
Free Press Unlimited has worked in Morocco through local Moroccan partners for over seven years, providing professional journalism, trainings and building capacity. Free Press Unlimited realizes that this incident is part of a series of crackdowns by the Moroccan authorities on free press and activities related to the professionalization of information providers in the past year.