Kent

Family of gay Briton Ray Cole jailed in Morocco 'incredibly worried'

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Media captionRay Cole's son, Adrian: "It's unclear why my father became the focus of this effort"

The family of a 69-year-old British man jailed for "homosexual acts" in Morocco say they they are "incredibly worried" about him.

Ray Cole, from Deal in Kent, and his Moroccan partner were held by police who asked to see his phone while he was waiting at a bus stop in Marrakech.

Mr Cole's family said he was jailed for four months on Thursday.

Gemma Scott-Hake, his daughter, said: "I'm very concerned. We really need to see if we can get him released."

She said: "We first realised that no-one could get hold of him when he didn't contact me on my birthday.

"A few days later I was told by my brother that there were serious concerns."

She said she, her brother Adrian Cole, and her mother had all visited him in prison in Morocco.

"My dad has been really really strong and I can't believe he's getting through this as well as he is," she said.

Image copyright Adrian Cole
Image caption Ray Cole was detained by police while waiting at a bus stop on the way back to his apartment.

Adrian Cole told the BBC: "He's surprisingly strong. The first time we saw him over there he was taking a very level-headed approach to what was going on.

"They have brief access to telephones. He does seem to be holding up."

'Incredibly worried'

Mr Cole said his father had been in Morocco on a five-week holiday and had been posting comments and photos online.

"One day he just vanished off Facebook," he said.

"I don't understand how a private photograph locked in a phone [could] become something that is offending people in public?"

He said his father was having to sleep on the floor of a cell designed for 44 people that was holding about 60 men.

"We are incredibly worried about our dad; it's not a great situation for him to be in," he said.

"He is facing his 70th birthday in there."

Image copyright Adrian Cole
Image caption Ray Cole's family say he is having to sleep on the floor of an overcrowded prison cell

He told the Pink News: "I'm gay and no one gave me any guarantees that I could go out and see my father.

"People don't know how dangerous this place is."

Foreign Office guidelines state that homosexuality is a criminal offence in Morocco and sexual relations outside marriage are also punishable by law.

A spokesman said: "We can confirm the detention of a British national in Morocco. We are providing consular assistance."

A #freeraycole hashtag has been set up on Twitter and a Facebook page and online petition have also been set up calling for Mr Cole's release.

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