Reporters Without Borders (RSF) holds the Moroccan authorities responsible for what happens to Souleiman Raissouni, a journalist who has been jailed for more than a year and who is now very weak after 70 days on hunger strike. King Mohammed must urgently intercede so that he does not die in prison, RSF says.
The editor of the Arabic-language daily Akhbar al-Yaoum (The Day's News), Raissouni should have been tried yesterday in Casablanca but was unable to attend because of his very weak condition, with the result that the judges postponed the trial for the ninth time.
The first few postponements were requested by Raissouni's lawyers because of procedural irregularities, while the latest postponements have been due to his physical inability to endure a long hearing.
"Although Souleiman Raissouni's life is now in grave danger, the Moroccan authorities keep on refusing to hospitalise him - an absurd and inhuman decision," said Souhaieb Khayati, the head of RSF's North Africa desk. "So that this relentless persecution does not have the worst possible outcome, so that Morocco does not have to bear the terrible responsibility of letting a journalist die in prison, we call on King Mohammed to intercede urgently to allow him to be released provisionally."
Raissouni began his hunger strike 70 days ago to press his demands for provisional release and for his right to due process to be respected, after exhausting all possible judicial recourses. He is facing up to ten years in prison on a sex charge that is entirely spurious, according to his lawyers.
King Mohammed has granted pardons in similar cases. Raissouni's niece, Hajar Raissouni, who is a journalist with his newspaper, was given a royal pardon in October 2019 after being sentenced to a year in prison for seeking an "illegal abortion" and for "sexual relations outside marriage."
Morocco is ranked 136th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.