Skip to main content

Moroccan journalist's jailing draws rebuke from US

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States is "disappointed" by a Moroccan court's five-year sentence of journalist Soulaiman Raissouni.
Protest against Soulaiman Raissouni's sentencing

The United States is "disappointed" by the sentencing of a prominent Moroccan journalist convicted of sexual assault amid fair trial concerns, the State Department said Monday.

Soulaiman Raissouni, the former editor of the independent Moroccan newspaper Akhbar al-Yaoum, had been jailed without trial since May 2020. On Friday, a court in Casablanca sentenced him to five years in prison and imposed a fine of 100,000 dirhams ($11,205), local media reported. 

Raissouni’s poor health caused by the hunger strike he launched in April reportedly prevented him from attending the trial. 

“We believe the judicial process that led to his verdict contradicts the Moroccan system’s fundamental promise of fair trials for individuals accused of crimes,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told a press briefing Monday.

Price added that the trial proceedings were “inconsistent with the promise of the 2011 constitution and his Majesty King Mohammed VI’s reform agenda.”

The Biden administration has raised the cases of Raissouni and other detained journalists, including award-winning reporter Omar Rady, with the Moroccan government, Price said. 

The North African country is ranked 133rd out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

In a statement on Monday, the Committee to Protect Journalists called on Morocco to release Raissouni and to “refrain from filing trumped-up sexual assault charges against members of the press.”

“Authorities must ensure that Raissouni receives the medical treatment he needs and that the country’s sexual assault laws will not be used as political tools to crush criticism,” said Sherif Mansour, the group’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator. 

The group says there are at least three journalists jailed in Morocco for alleged sex crimes, including Raissouni, who says the charges against him are “fabricated.”  

His newspaper, Akhbar al-Yaoum, announced in March that it was shutting down following constant harassment of its journalists and long-running financial problems. Akhbar al-Yaoum's publisher, Taoufik Bouchrine, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2019 on sexual assault charges believed to be retaliation for his critical government reporting.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

Text Alerts - Be the first to get breaking news, exclusives, and PRO content.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial