New York, July 19, 2023 – In response to news reports that the Moroccan court of cassation in Rabat on Tuesday rejected the final appeals of jailed journalists Soulaiman Raissouni and Omar Radi, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement of condemnation:
“We are deeply disappointed by the court’s decision to keep Soulaiman Raissouni and Omar Radi behind bars by rejecting their final appeals,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Morocco lost an opportunity to reverse course on its retaliatory measures against independent journalists, whose voices the country so desperately needs.”
Morocco’s highest court upheld the journalists’ sentences on Tuesday. The two were arrested in separate incidents in 2020; Raissouni is serving five years on a sexual assault conviction; and Radi is serving six years for sexual assault and undermining state security. Both deny the allegations and local press freedom advocates have told CPJ that they see the convictions as retaliation for their critical reporting.
The court also upheld the conviction of journalist Imad Stitou, who was arrested in connection with Radi’s case and later freed pending appeal of his six-month reduced sentence. According to news reports, Stitou was tried in absentia because he left the country.
CPJ emailed the Moroccan Ministry of Interior for comment but did not receive any response.