Morocco’s leading news website knows unprecedented crisis over articles subjecting UAE

Moroccan website “Hespress” is known as the first electronic newspaper in Morocco and one of the most prominent news websites in the Arab world; today, however, Hespress is experiencing an unprecedented crisis between the company owners and some of its founders.

One of these founders, journalist Khaled ElBerhli, published a post on his Facebook page on Monday, criticizing Hespress sponsoring company as well as the sports website HeSport, to which he has been Director and editor-in-chief since 2013.

ElBerhli said he has submitted his resignation from the company due to his continuing disagreement with a number of officials, stressing that some of the website employees have been paying “extra attention” to UAE’s interests, preserving the latter against any critical comment or reckless report likely to be published on the official website page; at a time where Qatar remained an open target to critics. ElBerhli also stated that he can provide facts proving such accusations, as well as a saved list of calls and messages on his phone that confirm these allegations.

“It is absolutely out of question to write down a review, a news story, a report, or any investigation material, that is considered offensive to the UAE”, ElBerhli stated, noting that more than 193 news articles glorifying Emiratis have been published last year, covering irrelevant topics that were not worth writing about the first place; and pointing that Hespress General Director lives in Dubai.

ElBerhli also spoke about “hacking journalists’ personal emails through their institutional phone numbers,” accusing Hespress owners of “spying on journalists and tampering with their personal data.”

It is noteworthy that Khaled ElBerhli, along with his fellow journalist Noureddine Lachhab, will soon publish a book to reveal the unknown to Moroccan and Arabic readers, since the website creation in 2017 till 2018. Some of the book’s chapters, however, will talk about Hespress founding fathers, as well as the authors’ 10 year experience within the paper.

Hespress responds:

For his part, Hespress General Manager, Hassane El Guennouni, said that both Hespress and HeSposrt Boards were surprised to read such lines for most of what has been said is wrong, noting that such post only meant to cause defamation and skepticism.

El Guennouni’s statement also mentioned that Barhili’s words carried a strong language, for he tended to accuse Hespress officials “of spying and betrayal”, besides other breaches that the website suffered from.

El Guennouni also revealed that ElBerhli could not deal properly with his new change in position within the paper for he lacked the necessary legal requirements; therefore, he stopped performing his editorial duties, without actually reaching any agreement with Hespress administration.

The statement said that the company’s editorial department is open to all subject matters and respects all constants and ethics related to journalism, pointing that all financial transactions are legal. Besides, the statement stressed the company’s right to resort to judiciary upon any comments or reports tended to harm Hespress reputation.

It is noteworthy that Hespress Co-founder, Noureddine Lachhab, said in his post on Facebook that his phone and that of ElBerhli have been hacked, for hackers were granted access to their emails and personal data, causing both journalists several problems.

In the light of their email hacking, Lachhab and ElBerhli filed their complaints to the court, stating that they will do everything they can to claim their rights, for they can prove their allegations right.

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