Moroccan journalist Raissouni jailed for 5 years on appeal

Moroccan journalist Soulaimane Raissouni was jailed Wednesday for five years after appealing his sentence for indecent assault, despite prosecutors seeking a 10-year custodial term, according to an AFP correspondent.

The 49-year-old former editor of the now-defunct Akhbar Al Yaoum was originally sentenced to five years in prison in the case and is one of several journalists critical of Morocco’s government to have been jailed for sex crimes.

Raissouni was arrested in May 2020 after a young LGBTQ activist pressed charges against him.

He has always maintained his innocence and says he was prosecuted “because of his opinions”.

After he was detained, he held a 122-day hunger strike, missing much of his initial trial.

The plaintiff had asked for the original five-year jail term to stand and for damages of up to 500,000 dinars ($53,000).

Raissouni’s defence had reaffirmed his innocence and called for his conviction to be quashed.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said his original trial was “tainted by irregularities”.

Moroccan authorities insist his trial was fair and that the charges have nothing to do with his journalism.

Since 2019, two other Moroccan journalists, Omar Radi and Taoufik Bouachrine, have been sentenced to prison terms for sexual assaults, accusations they have denied.

Radi was also convicted of espionage.

Morocco stands at 136 out of 180 in RSF’s world press freedom ranking of countries.