Two imprisoned journalists in Morocco face an indefinite hunger strike | International

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The journalist Suleimán Raisuni, in the newsroom of the newspaper 'Ajbar al Yaum' in Casablanca, in an image from 2019.

Journalist Suleimán Raisuni, in preventive detention for 10 months accused of sexually abusing a man, began an indefinite hunger strike last Thursday. The next day he also decided to deprive himself of water and turned his protest into a "hunger and thirst" strike. On the other hand, journalist Omar Radi, in preventive detention for eight months accused of raping a partner and maintaining contacts with a British intelligence agent, also began an indefinite hunger strike. Both plead innocent and demand their provisional release, which has been denied by the courts on several occasions.

Raisuni is 48 years old and Radi is 34. The two are in nearby cells, in the Ukacha prison in Casablanca. Both are well known in Morocco, especially in left-wing intellectual circles. Raisuni was denounced in 2020 by a young man who accused him of having tried to abuse him two years earlier.

Regarding Omar Radi, a co-worker publicist in the same media outlet, she accuses him of having raped her on the night of July 12-13. But Radi maintains that the relationship was consensual. Several humanitarian organizations have expressed their support for the two journalists and demand a fair trial for both.

Dris Radi, Omar's father, says by telephone: “Both Suleiman and my son consider that there is no reason to stay longer in prison without being tried. They believe that this is due to revenge, because both dared to point out with their work the niches of corruption that exist in the highest spheres of power.

Raisuni worked for the newspaper Ajbar al Yaum, the most critical publication against state policies. The director and owner of the publication, Taufic Buachrín, was imprisoned in 2018 and sentenced to 12 years in prison, also accused of several crimes of a sexual nature. When Buachrín entered prison, Raisuni became the star journalist. Finally, Raisuni was jailed in 2020. And the newspaper's publishing company announced the closure of the publication last March, claiming that it had been an economic ordeal for three years, without advertising and excluded from public subsidies.

Journalist Hajar Raisuni, 31, also worked in Ajbar al Yaum. She is Suleiman's niece and was imprisoned in 2019 for two months and sentenced to one year in jail for an alleged abortion that she denied. After an intense international campaign demanding his release, Hajar Raisuni was pardoned by the king, Mohamed VI. And he went to live in Sudan nine months ago. From Sudan, Hajar Raisuni tells this newspaper, via the Internet: “The last time I communicated with my uncle was last Thursday, through his lawyer. He told me that he had already been very patient with the Moroccan justice for 10 months. And that he no longer sees any other means of obtaining provisional liberty than the hunger strike. Both he and Omar Radi have been prevented from communicating with their families by phone. "

This Wednesday, April 14, 120 journalists published a letter demanding the release of Raisuni and Radi. The colleagues in the profession demand a "fair trial" and insist that the situation damages both the health of their two colleagues and the image of the country. The signatories ask their two colleagues to suspend the hunger strike and condemn the "impunity" from which the "defamation press" in Morocco "benefits." They recall that both Raisuni and Radi had already been the object of defamatory campaigns under "a thunderous silence" from the authorities that regulate the profession.

Raisuni decided on Wednesday to accept the water, but continued his hunger strike, according to sources close to the journalist. He and Omar Radi are both friends of 60-year-old Moroccan activist Maati Monjib, who was provisionally released last March after spending 19 days on a hunger strike in El Arjat prison, in the municipality of Salé. Monjib is accused of money laundering and was released from prison after an intense campaign of international solidarity. The first thing he declared as soon as he left is that he was going to fight for the freedom of other detainees.

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