First Published: 2012-11-08


Rabat orders 19 foreign journalists to leave Laayoune


Morocco’s interior ministry says journalists entered country without revealing their true identities in bid to cover commemorations of deadly events of November 8, 2010 in Laayoune.


Middle East Online


RABAT - Morocco said Wednesday it has ordered what it said are 19 foreign journalists -- 15 Spaniards and four Swedes -- to leave Laayoune, the main city of Western Sahara, claiming they had gone there under false pretexts.

Morocco annexed the former Spanish colony in 1975, in a move never recognised by the international community, and the interior ministry said the journalists had traveled there to cover the commemorations of deadly disturbances in 2010.

"These journalists entered national territory without revealing their true identities, pretending to be on holiday in the kingdom," the interior ministry said.

A source at the communications ministry said no request had been received for permission to report from Western Sahara, adding that journalists not accredited in the kingdom are required to take the appropriate steps to do so.

The interior ministry said it did not know whether the 19 people, who were not identified, had left the country or not.

It said their aim was to cover commemorations of the deadly events of November 8, 2010, when Moroccan authorities dismantled a camp in Gdim Izik inhabited by around 10,000 Sahrawi dissidents.

The move to break up the camp degenerated into clashes around the camp and in Laayoune, where a number of government offices and businesses were sacked and burned.

At least 13 people died, including 11 members of the security forces, the interior ministry said.

Twenty-three Sahrawis, accused of belonging to militias, were arrested and were to have gone on trial last month, but the case has been postponed indefinitely.

UN peace envoy for the Western Sahara Christopher Ross was in Algeria on Wednesday, the latest leg of a trip that has already taken him to Morocco.

The pro-independence Polisario Front, supported by Algeria, controls a small part of the desert interior and has bases over the border around Tindouf.

The UN brokered a ceasefire in 1991, but a settlement of the conflict remains elusive.


Corbyn criticised over Syria air strike rejection

Turkey protests against journalist arrests

Turkey seeks to ease tensions with Moscow

Tunisia to rethink anti-IS strategy

Saudi women begin first-ever election campaign

Russia prepares retaliation against Turkey

Cameron pushes for Britain to join Syria air strikes

Erdogan denies buying oil from IS

Lavrov says no war with Turkey after 'planned provocation'

Tunisia under state of emergency

Missing Iranian diplomat found dead in Saudi

Heavy Russia raids at site of Syria plane crash

Tunisia declares state of emergency after terrorist attack in heart of capital

Bahrain calls HRW torture report 'misleading'

Syria, Russia foreign ministers set Moscow talks

Rival Libya tribes sign peace deal to end months of fighting

Turkey reveals new cabinet of Erdogan allies

Turkey downs Russia Su-24 fighter jet on Syria border

Hopes fade away as Sudan peace talks break without deal

At least 6 dead in Libya bomb attack

Somali pirates seize Iran fishing boat with 15 crew

ISIS suicide bombers kill four in assault on Sinai hotel

Kerry visits Israel with scant hopes for major breakthrough

Hollande heads to Washington to seek support for war on ISIS

Brussels extends terror alert as US issues worldwide travel warning

UAE blames Islamists for delay in military operation in Taez

Egypt kills 5 Sudanese migrants near border with Israel

Anti-Muslim hate crimes rise 300 percent in Britain

Russia eases restrictions on nuclear cooperation with Iran

Gulf leaders to hold annual summit on December 10

Ex-Gathafi Minister arrested over murder of UK policewoman

UK boosts military spending as pressure grows to join anti-ISIS strikes

Israel bars Palestinians from West Bank settlement bloc

Iraq suspends northern flights due to danger posed by Russia missiles

Syria army advances against ISIS in central province of Homs

Pro-Kurdish leader escapes assassination attempt in Turkey

Tunisia group claims beheading of young shepherd on behalf of ISIS

Kerry arrives in Abu Dhabi for Syria discussions

Three Palestinians killed as fresh violence hits West Bank

Iran arrests ISIS-linked cell near Iraq border

Brussels remains on high alert for second day in a row

Israel seeks to strip citizenship of those who join ISIS

France warns Libya as ISIS gains ground

Fear escalates as ISIS edges closer to Syria Christian town

Iran sentences reporter Jason Rezaian to prison