Heavy-handed police control for 2 freelance Saharawi journalists at El Aaiún airport

On Tuesday, 3 March 2015, the 2 freelance journalists Ahmed Ettanji and Mahfoud Dahou, leaving for Casablanca on the 18h45 flight, were subject to an aggressive and intrusive police control before being authorized to enter the boarding room of El Aaiún airport. 

Ahmed Ettanji, president of Equipe Média and Mahfoud Dahou, journalist of same organisation arrived together at the airport; Casablanca was the first stop of their journey to the Spanish Basque Country, where they are going to attend an International Conference in solidarity with the Saharawi people.  

Being taken one after the other into a special room, after having presented their passports, the freelance journalists were interrogated by a police team led by the Pacha Brahim Ben Brahim.

The Pacha himself questioned them about the details of the journalists’ programme and insulted, slapped and spat on them depending on the answers. He violently insisted on the non-existence of the Saharawi people and asked about the purpose of Equipe Média to publish information in Arabic and other European languages. 

The officers of RG and DST who were present during the interrogations also beat the journalists, punching and kicking them.

The Pacha and the officers threatened our colleagues with reprisals once they were back to El Aaiún after the Conference.

Unrelated to the journalists, Nhbouha Boutngiza, a young activist, member of the Mothers of the 15 Disappeared Saharawis Committee, leaving for Accra in Ghana and having the same stop in Casablanca, was stopped by the same officers in her presentation to the control for registration. They questioned her about her destination and when they were informed that she was going to attend a symposium on the Saharawi resistance, they confiscated USB keys and documents. She strongly protested but she was forced to leave the office without her property.

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