Eric Laurent and Catherine Graciet, two French journalists prosecuted in France for extortion and blackmail against Morocco and its King were each sentenced to a 12-month prison sentence and a €10,000 fine.
The case dates back to 2015, when the two journalists were sued for asking several million euros in exchange for not publishing a book on the Kingdom.
In November 2017, the Court of Cassation, the highest French court, had recognized the validity of two recordings at the origin of the indictment of the two journalists. The judgment of the Court of Cassation had dismissed the two journalists’ appeal to invalidate these recordings.
In addition to the recordings, the two journalists had been arrested by the French police in Paris, each holding 40,000 euros in their pockets, after they signed and handed over a document to a Moroccan lawyer.
In this document, they asked for two million euros not to publish a book hostile to Morocco and to stop “systematically harming Morocco by their writings and actions.”
At the origin of this embarrassing affair for French journalists, Eric Laurent had contacted the King’s private secretariat to announce that he was about to publish, with Catherine Graciet, a book on Morocco. However, he hinted that they were ready to give up publishing the book in exchange for three million euros.
Morocco then organized meetings in Paris between the journalist and a lawyer representing the Moroccan side, during which Eric Laurent’s remarks were recorded. At the same time, Morocco had referred the case to French justice.
It was during a third meeting, held under the supervision of the French police, that an early payment of 80,000 euros was given to the two journalists, who accepted the money by signing a commitment not to write anything more on Morocco.
Eric Laurent, former correspondent for “Radio France” and “Le Figaro” magazine and author of several books, who is currently 75 years old, admitted, before the Paris Criminal Court on Monday, to a “moral error,” because, he said, he “agreed to be involved in this case,” but refuted “any criminal offense.”
Catherine Craciet admitted that “the envoy of the Moroccan state seduced her with his financial offer.”