The two French journalists’ racket, a matter of mere cupidity or a case with hidden purposes?

laurent-Four days after the case of blackmail and extortion against Morocco and its King broke out and after the two French journalists acknowledged during their custody that they asked for money to cancel the publishing of a polemical book on Morocco, French and Moroccan media and analysts are still wondering on the mobile of such a crazy act.

Several media outlets both in France and in Morocco, which covered the case as breaking news and which reported that Eric Laurent and his accomplice Catherine Graciet have been indicted early Saturday before being released under judicial supervision, are still wondering on the real intentions behind this unprecedented act of blackmail.

While some French media tried to find an explanation likely to alleviate the charges against the two master-blackmailers, the defendants’ lawyer William Bourdon said that “Eric Laurent acknowledges and concedes that for reasons related to a difficult personal context, he accepted to seek a financial agreement in circumstances that have nothing to do with blackmail or extortion.” If this is not characterized blackmail and extortion, what is it then?

Other media reports said Catherine Graciet had revealed to some acquaintances that she was planning to quit journalism and start a business. She was probably planning the best way to invest the money she was dreaming to reap from the operation she plotted with her partner Eric Laurent.

The two journalists had co-authored another polemical book on Morocco few years ago and the publishing company “Editions du Seuil” confirmed that the two were working on a second volume due to be published early next year.
The two blackmailers had first asked for $3 million before they lowered the amount to $2 million during the negotiations with French Attorney Eric Dupond-Moretti, as the lawyer representing Morocco. During the negotiations held at three meetings in Paris, out of which two were monitored by the police, the two blackmailers received an advance of €80,000 and also signed a declaration under which they undertook not to publish the polemical book and to abstain in the future from writing anything or making any comments on Morocco and its ruler.

According to press reports, the document, in three copies, was handwritten by Catherine Graciet herself.

Although the first mobile that comes to mind is gaining easy money, Attorney Dupond-Moretti is skeptical. For him, there is surely something else behind this “curious, unprecedented case.” He did not discard the possibility that some outside group, gang or lobby seeking to tarnish the image of King Mohammed VI may have had a hand in this “very serious act.”

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