Sun, 10 Dec 2023

Two French journalists found guilty by a Paris court of extortion and blackmail against the king of Morocco have been given a 12-month suspended prison sentence and fined €10,000 each.

Eric Laurent and Catherine Graciet were accused of seeking to extort several million euros from King Mohammed VI in 2015 in exchange for not publishing an embarrassing book on the Moroccan royal family.

Laurent, a former correspondent for Radio France and Le Figaro magazine, had reportedly contacted the king's office to announce publication of the book.

Reports say the journalists then accepted payment of 80,000 euros and signed a commitment not to write anything more on Morocco.

Paris arrest

The pair were arrested in Paris, each in possession of 40,000 euros in cash, after allegedly giving a signed document to a Moroccan lawyer in which they asked for 2 million euros in return for burying the book and ceasing to "systematically harm Morocco" by their "writings and actions".

Other evidence against them centres on two audio recordings that were accepted as valid by the Court of Cassation, France's highest French court, in 2017.

The recordings were made during a meeting in Paris between Laurent and a lawyer representing Morocco, who then referred the case to French justice.

French journalists in court over alleged blackmail of Moroccan king Paris court upholds charges against journalists accused of blackmailing Moroccan king

Laurent, 75, on Monday admitted to a "moral error" before the Paris Criminal Court on Monday, saying he had "agreed to be involved in this case". However he denied having committed a criminal offence.

Craciet conceded the state of Morocco had swayed her with its financial offer.

The journalists say the recordings used in evidence had been faked and intend to appeal their sentence.

Originally published on RFI

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