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Two French journalists arrested for blackmailing king of Morocco

Morocco's King Mohammed VI has built a reputation as a moderate and modern leader [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 August, 2015

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France has arrested two journalists for demanding three million euros from the king of Morocco in return for not publishing a compromising book.

Two French journalists have been arrested in France for allegedly trying to blackmail Morocco's King Mohammed VI, the Paris prosecutor's office and a lawyer for the king said.

The prosecutor's office said the two, Eric Laurent and Catherine Graciet, remained in detention on Friday.

The king has built a reputation as a moderate, modern leader, though journalists in Morocco have been jailed for criticising him.

Laurent claimed he and Graciet were writing a compromising book about the monarch and demanded $3.4 million to keep it unpublished

Eric Dupont-Moretti, a lawyer for the king, told RTL radio Thursday that Laurent claimed he and Graciet were writing a compromising book about the monarch and demanded three million euros ($3.4 million) to keep it unpublished.

Dupont-Moretti said the Moroccan leadership filed a lawsuit in Paris and the arrests came after a sting operation.

The sting operation

According to French judicial sources, on June 23 this year, Laurent called the Moroccan royal court, and said that he had finished investigations for a book on King Mohammed VI. He requested a meeting to discuss it.

Sources in the French Interior Ministry said the royal court appointed the lawyer Dupont-Moretti to meet Laurent in early August.

After the meeting, the royal court approached the French authorities.

A second meeting with Laurent and his co-author Graciet was recorded, and on the basis of this recording, the authorities opened an official investigation against the couple on charges of blackmail and extortion.

Laurent and Graciet were arrested after leaving a third meeting in a Parisian restaurant last Thursday.

AFP reported that the two had been preparing a book on the king, due to be published in early 2016.

Laurent has already published two books on the king, one entitled Le Roi predateur (The Predator King) with Graciet in 2012.

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