The nightmare of two Polish journalists visiting occupied territories of Western Sahara 

A press release of two Polish journalists who visited Elaaiun this September, and then deported to Agadir:

We begin by expressing our gratitude to everyone who helped us get by and understand Sahrawi people’s hardship in occupied territories.
We intend to describe the events that followed our kidnapping by the police from our hotel in El Aaiun. September 9 around 11 pm we returned to the hotel and over there we were surprised by 10 undercover police officers who instructed us to pack our luggages swiftly. We have been given no explanations whatsoever despite our questions. We were only told we will get deported because we meet with political activists. We were refused the right to call the embassy of our country. The officers have not identified themselves even though we have asked them to do it.

We have been escorted to a vehicle by several officers and transported outside of a town, into the desert with one single building within our horizon where we have been kept over 2 hours. We assume it is a functioning checkpoint. There were 18 persons over there, presumably all of them plainclothes officers.

The attitude of the interrogators was increasingly aggressive throughout all the time. There were persons specifically assigned to watch us constantly.

At the beginning of interrogation our phones were seized and switched off. We were told to pass them all the electronic devices we own. Nevertheless the interrogators have not been satisfied with what they found, they have asked us to present another and another photo camera, and insisting to give the SD card. At that point they begun shouting at us that we are journalists and we are obliged to pass them the result of our work implying that otherwise it is impossible we are the tourists because there are no tourists in El Aaiun. At that moment another person has appeared in to the room. It was certainly alarming that he knew a lot about us. He has threatened us with grave consequences if we publish any material from El Aaiun anywhere in the world. It was clear to us these were death threats.

They tried to gain our trust and convince that Sahrawi activists are thieves and are interested only in financial gains.

Afterwards they have told us to put our backpack on the table and 4 persons begun searching them thoroughly. They have been taking pictures of the content including our diaries and handwritten notes. From the very beginning in the hotel, until the end of the interrogation, one of them was continously taking picture of us. When they finished we have been instructed to collect our belongings and put them in a car outside and take place inside. Few minutes later we were told to leave the vehicle and return to the room in order to put the content of our pockets on the table. There were no objects of interest among and we were told to return to the vehicle. There was no sensitive material whatsoever found on us neither we have articulated any information that could be useful to them.

The vehicle was a Grand taxi and its driver had been instructed to never speak to us. He would never stop for our requests. The journey took 8 hours. We have been dropped on the outskirts of Agadir. Ever since we have been followed by undercover police officers constantly until the very moment of departure from Morocco, two days later.

In solidarity!

M., S

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