File photo - AFP journalist Omar Brouksy is grabbed by police during a protest outside parliament.

Rabat -

Moroccan authorities decided to withdraw the press accreditation of Agence France-Presse (AFP) journalist Omar Brouksy over his coverage of legislative by-elections in Tangier on Thursday.

The move was made in response to a story published by AFP in French under Brouksy's byline earlier that day in which a reference was made to the participation in the by-election of candidates “close to the royal palace”, Communications Minister Mustapha el-Khalfi told the AFP bureau in Rabat.

The candidates in question ran under the banner of the Authenticity and Modernity Party, founded by Fouad Ali El Himma, a close advisor to the Moroccan king.

Khalfi denied the existence of any link between the candidates and the palace.

In a statement, the government described the story as “unprofessional”, and argued that it carried “allegations involving the monarchy in this electoral race.”

The allegations, it said, were “unfounded, irresponsible and in contrast to the traditions of a prestigious news organisation.”

AFP Global News Director Philippe Massonnet called on Moroccan authorities to “reconsider this decision.”

“The report had no agenda but to inform, contextualise the situation, without the intention of harming anyone,” Massonnet said, adding that AFP's Rabat bureau had “the full confidence of the agency's management.” - Sapa-AFP