Hailed by CNN as a free speech pioneer in Morocco," Benchemsi is the founder of Moroccos two best-selling weeklies, TelQuel (French) and Nichane (Arabic). He served as publisher and editor until late 2010, when he left to join Stanford University as a visiting scholar.Benchemsis magazines have been praised by the Los Angeles Times for their uncanny ability to set the agenda and push the boundaries of acceptable discourse in Morocco," for covering normally taboo topics such as contemporary slavery, drug trafficking, Quranic reinterpretations, the treatment of religious and sexual minorities, and the endemic corruption and repression of Moroccos government.
Investigating these controversial issues has brought Benchemsi into conflict with his countrys rulers. Despite its success on the newsstand, Nichane was forced into bankruptcy in 2010, after government-led financial pressure. Benchemsi was prosecuted many times over politically motivated charges, and his magazines were seized, temporarily banned, and condemned to exorbitant fines. His persecution earned him support from American and European human rights groups and free press watchdogs, as well as news coverage from the BBC, Al Jazeera, The Economist, The Guardian, Le Monde, and El Pais.