Moroccan court rejects hunger strike journalist appeal

Moroccan court rejects hunger strike journalist appeal
2 min read
03 June, 2021
The lawyer of Soulaimane Raissouni confirmed authorities in Morocco rejected an appeal by the journalist despite his 57-day hunger strike.
The court rejected an appeal [Getty]

A Moroccan court rejected on Thursday an appeal to release a journalist awaiting trial who has been on hunger strike for 57 days against his detention, his lawyer said.

Soulaimane Raissouni, 48, chief editor of Moroccan independent daily Akhbar al-Youm, is accused of "indecent assault", charges he denies.

He began a hunger strike in April demanding to be provisionally released, having been held in detention for months.

"He is in a serious health condition, and cannot stand up straight for five minutes," his lawyer Mohamed Messaoudi said in court.

"He is incapable of concentrating or answering any question." 

Messaoudi said his client, who appeared Thursday for a hearing before the Casablanca appeals court, had lost around 30 kilos (66 pounds) since his arrest in May 2020.

But a judge dismissed concern over Raissouni's health, saying that a doctor had declared the journalist to be in a "general good state", and postponed the start of his trial to June 10.

On Tuesday, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urged Morocco's King Mohammed VI to "use his influence" to secure the release of Raissouni, as well as fellow jailed journalist Omar Radi.

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Radi also began a hunger strike in April, but he suspended it three weeks later, due to what his father said at the time was a "significant deterioration" of his health.

Known for his human rights work, Radi was placed in pre-trial detention last July, charged with receiving foreign funds for the purpose of harming "state security", the justice ministry had said.

He is also accused separately of rape, and denies all the charges against him.

Supporters say both cases are part of a defamation campaign targeting journalists and rights activists critical of Moroccan authorities.