On the 22nd of February Isabel Lourenço, European coordinator of Adala UK for the support of Saharawi prisoners travelled by airplane with Royal Air Maroc from Lisbon via Casablanca with final destination to Laayoune, in occupied Western Sahara. Due to a 4 hours delay of the flight from Lisbon to Casablanca she missed the connection to Laayoune and was forced to stay one night at hotel Atlas in Casablanca and boarded on 23rd of February 2015 with the afternoon flight to Laayoune.
At arrival at Laayoune airport (17h40) the police asked about the purpose of her visit and took her passport away. She informed the police that she was an international observer with an accreditation and would attend the trial of Mr. Mahmoud El Haisan, Saharawi journalist, on February 24th, at 9h00 at the court of appeal of Laayoune and that she would stay at Hotel Jodesa.
At 17h57 the police took her plane ticket away and did not answer when she asked why they needed it. The police informed her that she was not welcomed, that she was persona non grata and that she had to leave immediately Laayoune on the same airplane back to Casablanca.
Isabel called the Portuguese embassy in Rabat and informed them about what was happening, as well as the President of Adala Uk, Mr. Sidi Ahmed Fadel and Mrs. Helena Brandão in Lisbon, who heard part of the conversation with the police on the phone. The police took her phone away by force and told her that she could not call her embassy or anyone else.
One of the police men took her suitcase and throw her laptop to the ground, ripping it from her hands. As she was recollecting her things from the floor the two policewomen grabbed her arm by force and said that she had to enter the airplane.
Isabel asked repeatedly with whom she should speak in Casablanca since she had neither a return flight for that day nor a hotel room. She was told that the police would “take care” of her the same way they did in Laayoune.
Arriving to Casablanca Isabel had difficulties to contact the Portuguese embassy and tried to stay in the airport as long as she could. The police approached her again, trying to find why she would not leave.
Afterwards and after a long time looking, she managed to find a hotel late at night were she is at the moment. With her own effort she managed to change her flight to return to Lisbon, where she will arrive tomorrow, 25th of February, at 13h00, Lisbon time.
Meanwhile, Isabel is in contact with several Portuguese journalists, giving interviews. Two Portuguese television channels had talked to her and several newspapers, radios and information websites are spreading the news about what happened to her.
Adala UK asks all our friends to send protests and official statements against the harassment and expulsion of Mrs. Lourenço, member of Adala UK to the Moroccan government, the European parliament as well as the United Nations.