Off Limits

Censorship and Corruption

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Far from thanking their critics, governments go to great lengths to silence them. In Argentina, exposures of official corruption by a bold independent newspaper, Pagina 12, struck such a deep nerve that they triggered an amendment to the Penal Code, since withdrawn, that would curb "whistleblowers" by making it an offense to publish information about financial affairs, industry, the military, and many other matters without official permission. Sometimes a regime will even reach out beyond its own borders to punish a critic who exposes financial corruption. In June 1991, France expelled the Moroccan writer Abdelmoumen Diouri who had resided legally in France since the 1970's as a political refugee. The expulsion order provided no specific reasons for Diouri's expulsion, but the most probable reason is his criticism of Morocco's King. French authorities had urged him not to publish his forthcoming book, A Qui Appartient le Maroc? ( Who Owns Morocco?), which investigates the King's financial interests abroad and in various sectors of the Moroccan economy. Diouri returned to France in July after an administrative tribunal ruled that he had been wrongly deported. This report focuses on six countries around the world which in different ways illustrate the mechanisms of censorship through which governments formally and informally prevent reporting on the wealth of those in power.