Journalists Eric Laurent And Catherine Graciet Sentenced To 1 Year In Prison For Blackmailing The Moroccan King
Paris, March 14 (TNA) French journalists Eric Laurent and Catherine Graciet have been sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of €10,000 for attempting to blackmail King Mohammed VI in 2015. The Paris criminal court found that the two journalists had acted unethically and engaged in blackmail against the king.
In addition to the criminal charges, the court also found the civil claim of the Moroccan government to be admissible, with the defendants jointly ordered to pay €1 to the government, and each ordered to pay a fine of €5,000.
The verdict comes seven years after the events, which took place on July 23, 2015, when Laurent contacted the king's private office to request a meeting. The meeting was arranged for August 11 in a Parisian palace with an emissary of the monarchy, lawyer Hicham Naciri.
Laurent said at the trial that he described the contents of a proposed book, which included allegations of financial misconduct involving public companies in the country and tensions within the royal family. Laurent claimed that Naciri quickly moved to a transactional approach and proposed a deal, saying "That doesn't suit us." Naciri denies this version of events and claims that it was Laurent who proposed an arrangement.
Following the meeting, Morocco filed a complaint, and an investigation was opened. Two more meetings were arranged, on August 21 and 27, with police officers present. During the last meeting, with Graciet present, the journalists signed an agreement to withdraw the book proposal in exchange for €2 million.
They were subsequently arrested, each with €40,000 in cash. It was revealed that the three meetings had been recorded by the king's emissary. Laurent claimed that the recording was a fake, but the prosecution argued that there was no evidence to support this claim.
Laurent, now 75, admitted to the court that he had made an ethical error and had "allowed himself to be drawn into this affair," but denied any criminal wrongdoing. Graciet, 48, who has written books on the Maghreb and Libya, said she had been seduced by the emissary's financial offer and regretted her involvement.
The prosecution had requested suspended one-year prison sentences and fines of €15,000 for each defendant at the hearing on January 16 in the 10th criminal court of Paris. The two journalists had previously written a book on Mohammed VI in 2012, titled "The Predator King," and had signed a contract with Le Seuil for a second volume on the same topic