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Morocco reporter on hunger strike in Geneva over passport denial should return home: Rabat

AFP , Sunday 5 Jul 2015
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A Moroccan journalist on hunger strike in Geneva, who was previously jailed for insulting the Moroccan king and is now being denied a passport, was told Sunday to return home to plead his case.

"Morocco is a state of law," said Mohamed Aujjar, Morocco's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, insisting the journalist had "every right to contest the administrative decision" not to provide him with a certificate needed to renew his passport.

"But you don't get your papers by staging a hunger strike," he told AFP.

Lmrabet has been on hunger strike outside the UN's Geneva offices since June 24, when his Moroccan passport expired after months of vain attempts to renew it.

The journalist, who moved indoors Sunday amid a searing heatwave, told AFP he had lost seven kilos (15.4 pounds) since he stopped eating.

Lmrabet maintains Morocco's refusal to renew his passport aims to block him from moving ahead with his plans to relaunch two satirical publications, after a 10-year-ban on him practising journalism was lifted in April.

He says he had requested the residence certificate needed to renew his passport on April 20, and had received the document only to see it withdrawn the next day.

The authorities said Lmrabet, whose wife and children live in Spain, did not live at his father's address in the northern city of Tetouan as claimed.

Aujjar said that if Lmrabet disagreed with the administrative decision he could challenge it, but not in Geneva.

Lmrabet flatly rejected Aujjar's suggestion he return to Morocco and pursue the case in court, insisting he would then be stuck in the country with no papers and no possibility to work or leave

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