Jailed Moroccan journalist Soulaimane Raissouni ends hunger strike

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Jailed Moroccan journalist Soulaimane Raissouni, sentenced to five years for indecent assault, has ended his 122-day hunger strike after being hospitalized, his lawyer said on Monday.

“He told us today that he stopped his hunger strike on Saturday after being hospitalized, in response to calls from his supporters both nationally and internationally,” Mohamed Messaoudi told AFP.

Raissouni, 49, editor-in-chief of the now-defunct Akhbar Al Yaoum, was arrested in May 2020.

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He was convicted last month of indecent assault against another man, making him the latest in a string of journalists prosecuted for alleged sex crimes.

Raissouni denied all the charges, and his supporters insist the case was politically motivated and part of an official defamation campaign.

The prison doctor “told him his health was in danger and that he only had two choices -- stop the hunger strike or die”, Messaoudi quoted his client as saying.

Raissouni last week said he would end his hunger strike if taken to hospital.

Rights groups including Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) had criticised the reporter’s trial and called for his release.

Raissouni had refused food for several months in protest at what he said was the “injustice” dealt to him.

“I only called for a fair trial which would inevitably exonerate me,” Raissouni told his lawyer on Monday.

Morocco insists that its judiciary is independent and the prosecution has called the case “fair”.

Prison authorities had accused Raissouni’s supporters of being “devoid of conscience and patriotism” and of seeking to “mislead public opinion”.

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