Police stop Morocco protest


Moroccan authorities stopped human rights activists protesting outside parliament to demand the release of dissident journalists Soulaimane Raissouni, who is on a hunger strike, and Omar Radi.

Police outnumbered the small group of activists gathered for a sit-in in front of parliament, pushing them from the area with riot shields.

The cases of Raissouni and Radi, both in pre-trial detention, drew criticism from international rights groups who see their arrest on separate charges of sexual abuse, which both men deny, as politically motivated.

Raissouni has been held for a year and his wife and rights activists say his health is deteriorating from his hunger strike. Prison authorities said his health was normal and he is under daily medical supervision.

Radi recently ended his hunger strike.

Protesters outside parliament held pictures of the two and chanted slogans calling for their release and for a fair judiciary as they were forced to leave the area.

“We came to demand the release of Soulaimane Raissouni and Omar Radi and  to denounce the negligence and arbitrary detention they suffered,” Khadija Riadi of the solidarity committee with the two reporters said.

“Journalists are not demanding immunity, they just want freedom to defend themselves in a fair trial to prove their innocence,” she added.

In January, a group of Moroccan rights groups described the increasing use of pre-trial detention as a human rights violation.

Moroccan authorities deny waging a campaign against free speech, saying the police and courts are implementing national laws.

“We denounce the intervention of authorities and their ban of our sit-in,” said Abdelilah Ben Abdeslam, another rights activist.