The Moroccan judiciary refuses the last resort to release two journalists who criticize the authorities

the Court of Cassation, Morocco’s highest court has rejected the latest appeal by two journalists critical of the authorities, who have been serving prison sentences since 2021 after being accused of sexual assault and espionage. Martyr Omar Radi, 37 years old and Slimane Raissouni, 51, whose prison sentences of six and five years, respectively, had already been upheld at an appeal hearing last year.

In an unusual public appearance, their lawyers, with the support of international NGOs, last week summoned the highest authorities in the Maghreb country to search for a “judicial, legal and political solution” so that the two journalists can regain their freedom through amnesty, reports AFP. . marking Throne partyKing Mohammed VI, who is celebrating his 30th birthday, usually grants royal pardons to many prisoners.

Omar Al-Radi was tried on charges of rape and assaulting state security on charges of spying for a foreign country, after he revealed that his phone had been exposed interfered with Pegasus. The journalist, who was convicted in July 2020 of sexual assault by a woman, has always maintained that the relationship was consensual. This was stated at the trial by another journalist, Imad Steto, the only witness present in the house where the events took place. His cassation of his six-month prison sentence for complicity after testifying on behalf of a fellow professional has also just been ratified.

The operation was carried out in parallel with that of editor-in-chief Suleiman Raissouni, who was convicted of sexually assaulting an LGTBI activist. Both of them denounced that they remained isolated in separate cells in Akasha prison in Casablanca, and that they were victims of “judicial cruelty” because of their writings critical of the authorities. Local NGOs, such as the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, and international organizations such as Amnesty InternationalHuman Rights Watch has followed their cases closely.

On July 10 in Casablanca, lawyers for reporters and representatives of major NGOs called on the “country’s highest authority” to mediate a “political solution”. “We hope that the imprisonment and judicial persecution will end through a review of the procedures or with some degree of mercy,” said lawyer Mohamed Massoudi, who defended the journalists.

The signal has been sent [por esta sentencia] Said Khaled Drareni, representative of Reporters Without Borders For North Africa, after the announcement of the ruling issued by the Court of Cassation on Tuesday. The NGO has called on the Rabat authorities to “put an end to this inhumane judicial ordeal”. Amnesty International, which was founded in London, denounced the deprivation of journalists’ right to read and write. The New York-based Human Rights Watch questioned the “tactics” used in Morocco to silence political opponents through accusations of sexual crimes.

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Moroccan officials insisted that the two journalists had been tried for “ordinary crimes” unrelated to their profession or freedom of expression, and they categorically denied that either of them had been spied on with Israel’s Pegasus manufacturing program. The president of the Morocco Victims’ Rights Association, Aicha Guila, lamented that both informants “are trying to politicize their procedures after establishing the facts in court,” and accused foreign NGOs of “exploiting both cases,” according to statements collected by AFP. On a scale of 180 countries, led by Norway and closed by North Korea, Morocco ranks 144th in the world Press Freedom Ranking prepared by Reporters Without Borders.

80-year-old former minister imprisoned and sick

At the same time that human rights activists and non-governmental organizations invoked a royal pardon formula for journalists Radhi and Al-Raisouni, relatives of Former Minister Muhammad Zayan The 80-year-old, who was sentenced to three years in prison after criticizing the king’s absence, declared himself seriously ill in prison, according to reports. This portal, which in turn cites the digital daily newspaper Al-Hayat, reported that during a scheduled visit last week to a prison near Rabat, her relatives noticed that Zayan, who also holds Spanish citizenship, had great difficulties walking and had to wear a lumbar support. belt.

The man who was head of the human rights file between 1995 and 1996, before he was a member of the opposition, has been detained for seven months in Al-Arjat prison, on the outskirts of Rabat, after he was charged with 11 crimes, including those of “insulting institutions.” A year ago, he posted a video on social media lashing out “The Absence of Mohammed VI”, accused of allegedly disregarding the affairs of the kingdom, and demanded that he abdicate in favor of his 20-year-old son, Crown Prince Hassan.

Former head of the Bar Association in the Moroccan capital and a defense attorney in prominent human rights cases, he was also charged with charges such as “incitement to violate measures to prevent the spread of the Corona virus,” “setting a bad example for children,” adultery, or sexual harassment.

In 2020, Zayan’s lawyer blamed the security services for manipulating a video in which he appeared with a married client in a hotel room. Amnesty International has warned that charge of adultery against him was “unfounded”, as there was no complaint from at least one of the adulterers’ spouses, as required by Moroccan law.

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