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Gay British man Ray Cole released from Moroccan prison

Mr Cole was sentenced to four months in a Moroccan prison for reportedly having homosexual images on his phone

Natasha Culzac
Tuesday 07 October 2014 23:03 BST
Ray Cole, whose son said has been "blown away" by the level of international support he has received since being jailed in Morocco for being gay
Ray Cole, whose son said has been "blown away" by the level of international support he has received since being jailed in Morocco for being gay (PA)

A gay British man, who was sentenced to four months in a Moroccan jail after authorities found images on his phone that reportedly proved homosexuality, has been released.

Ray Cole, 69, was detained on 18 September alongside his Moroccan friend Jamal Jam Wald Nass, during the fourth week of his five-week trip to the North African country.

The pair had previously met on Facebook and it was Mr Cole’s second trip to Morocco where, according to Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, homosexuality is a criminal offence.

They were approached by police at a bus stop, had their phones searched and on October 2 Mr Cole’ family received news that the two men had been jailed for four months.

Mr Cole’s son, Adrian, 41, said: “Our legal team in Marrakesh lodged an appeal today.

“It has moved much faster than we expected and the court was able to take the step of releasing my father.

“We would like to express our gratitude as a family to the thousands of people who have offered us their support and kindness.”

His father is expected to return home tonight on a British Airways flight – it is not clear if Mr Nass, who is in his 20s, was awarded the same legal clemency.

Mr Cole, from Deal, Kent, was understood to have been languishing in a barbed-wire prison, in a cell for 44 men that was actually crammed with 60.

The news of his detainment reached the British press at the weekend and led to countless people offering their support on social media with a #FreeRayCole hashtag, a petition and moves by organisations such as Stonewall to help facilitate his release.

Adrian had posted an emotional plea on Facebook on 3 October, telling the world about the plight of his father and asking everyone to share his status.

In it, he wrote: “The prison does not segregate, so he is sharing with murderers, rapists, paedophiles etc.

“We have been working with the foreign and common wealth office, but of course they cannot change the law. What we can do though is make this an embarrassment for the Moroccan authorities, this country produces nothing, they rely on tourists, like my father.”

He has since said that his father’s release has been a “massive step towards restoring my faith towards the Moroccan system”.

Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke had also tried to help in the release of his constituent, telling the Pink News upon Mr Cole’s conviction that the charges were “medieval” and that tourists were not safe to travel there.

Adrian added today: “I would also like to offer my thanks to the Moroccan authorities. I am told my father left prison in good spirits and with all the possessions he went in there with.

“He left the things given to him while he was there, such as blankets and clothes, to other prisoners who do not have families supporting them.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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