The investigation chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal rejected on Tuesday a petition to annul audio recordings implicating the two French journalists, Eric Laurent and Catherine Graciet, being prosecuted for attempted extortion and blackmail against Morocco.
The defendants’ lawyers had submitted the petition to consider the audio recordings inadmissible, but Morocco’s lawyer, Eric Dupond-Moretti countered their plea saying that all the evidence against the blackmailers was obtained in a legal manner and in coordination with French authorities.
Last summer, the two journalists had threatened to publish a supposedly compromising book on King Mohammed VI and his country, in exchange of money. They had set the amount at €3 million.
Morocco’s attorney met the two journalists for three times in Paris, and during the third and last meeting held in a Paris Restaurant on August 27, the two French journalists signed a notarized document, reportedly handwritten by Catherine Graciet, committing not to write or publish anything on the Kingdom of Morocco, to never speak publicly on this country, either directly, indirectly or through intermediaries, and to never share, in any way, the documents and information in their possession with anyone.
During the same meeting, they received an advance of €40,000 each as down-payment for the €2 million they had finally agreed upon. What they did not know, is that the French police was supervising the meeting, taking pictures and recording all its details.
So, when they were leaving the restaurant, they were handcuffed with the money they had received and the document they had signed in their pockets and referred to court.
In a statement to reporters Tuesday, attorney Eric Dupond-Moretti said “the document signed by both defendants pledging not to publish their book in return of the sum of money agreed upon is a notarial act, done under the supervision of the Paris Public Prosecutor.” In addition to that, he added, you have the phone conversations between Eric Laurent and the head of the Royal Cabinet that clearly evidence the defendants’ involvement in the racketeering.
All these blatant proofs indicting the two felons will be hard to annul.