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FRANCE - MoROCco

French court charges journalists accused of blackmailing Moroccan king

Catherine Graciet with her book, The Predator King
Catherine Graciet with her book, The Predator King bibelio.com/Montage RFI

Two French journalists have been charged with blackmail and extortion after allegedly promising not to publish a book about Morocco's King Mohammed VI in exchange for large sums of money.

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Eric Laurent and Catherine Graciet, who have been held since Thursday, were charged overnight on Friday and released on bail, sources said.

Graciet's lawyer, Eric Moutet, on Friday confirmed that a "financial deal" had taken place when the two met a Moroccan official, leading to their arrest reportedly in possession of 40,000 euros each.

The Moroccan state's lawyer, Eric Dupond-Moretti, claims that Laurent offered not to publish a book, coauthored with Graciet, which apparently contained damaging revelations about the king in exchange for three million euros.

Moutet said the context was "very troubling".

"The Kingdom of Morocco has a score to settle with Catherine Gracet and a new book on the king's entourage is being prepared at the time when the financial deal is arranged,' he told the AFP news agency.

The pair published another book on Mohammed VI, called The Predator King, in 2012.

An edition of the Spanish paper El Pais was banned in Morocco on the day it printed excerpts from the book.

France and Morocco renewed legal cooperation in January after an 11-month break because legal cases opened in France against Moroccan intelligence chief Abdellatif Hammouchi.

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