Moroccan and international organizations on Saturday criticized the conviction of journalist Suleiman Raissouni, who has been on hunger strike for 94 days, to five years in prison.
On Friday, the Court of Appeals in the city of Casablanca, in northern Morocco, sentenced Raissouni to 5 years in prison, on charges of “violent indecent assault” and “detention”, which he denies altogether.
The (non-governmental) committee for “supporting Raissouni, (journalist Omar) Radi, (historian Al-Maati) Monjib and all victims of freedom of expression violations described the trial as “another title to the setback that rights and freedoms are experiencing in the country.”
In a statement, the authority called for Raissouni’s release, urging him to stop his hunger strike “to save his life.”
In turn, the Moroccan Association for Human Rights condemned the verdict against the journalist without bringing him to court, describing the verdict as “revenge.”
In a statement, the association (the largest human rights organization in the country) called on the Moroccan authorities to release him immediately.
For its part, the international organization “Reporters Without Borders” criticized the ruling against Raissouni, considering him “among the journalists who deal with sensitive issues in the country.”
In May 2020, the Moroccan authorities arrested Raissouni, based on a complaint filed by a young man accusing him of “sexual assault”, an accusation that the journalist denies.
Meanwhile, the authorities constantly deny the authenticity of the news that Raissouni is in a deteriorating condition and dying as a result of his hunger strike for more than 3 months.
Raissouni, who is known for his bold pen and articles critical of the authority, is considered one of the most prominent journalists in the Moroccan media scene.
The Moroccan authorities usually deny that there has been any decline in the level of rights and freedom of expression in the country.