Morocco Expels al-Jazeera Over 'Irresponsible' Reporting

Too much focus on separatists, not enough focus on development cited as reasons for losing accreditation.

Morocco has withdrawn accreditation from correspondents of the Arab television channel al-Jazeera because of their "irresponsible" coverage of the North African kingdom, the Communication Ministry announced Friday.

Al-Jazeera had violated the journalistic rules of "honesty precision and objectivity" several times, the ministry said.

morocco - AP - October 9 2010

The Qatar-based channel had provided a coverage that tarnished Morocco's image, downplaying its achievements in areas such as development, infrastructure projects, democracy and human rights, the ministry complained.

The channel had damaged Morocco's interests in areas such as its territorial integrity, the communiqué said, in an apparent reference to Morocco's claim over Western Sahara.

Al-Jazeera had not heeded several official warnings, the ministry said, explaining that Morocco had decided to expel the TV broadcaster after carefully evaluating its reports.

Al-Jazeera had also imported technical equipment without the required permits, according to the communiqué.

Al-Jazeera had reported critically on poverty in Morocco and on its policies in Western Sahara, a territory annexed after 1975, where separatists accuse Rabat of repression, observers said.

Press censorship was reduced after Mohammed VI became king in 1999, but critics say it has increased again in recent years.