A British father has claimed his arrest and 21-day imprisonment in Morocco was the result of an attempt to blackmail him for being gay. Ray Cole, 69 was arrested with his friend Jamal Jam Wald Nass after police in Morocco claimed they found evidence they were a gay couple on his phone.
But the father of two told This Morning on ITV1: “We were set-up. I think it was the guy from the residence we were staying, the concierge where we were staying. He had already made it clear he wanted money from us.”
He claimed the couple “were totally discrete” but Police had accessed his phone and paypal account to gather evidence against them. Mr Cole admitted he knew homosexuality was illegal in Morocco but he had believed being discreet would ensure he was not bothered by authorities.
Cole was freed last night after the intervention of openly gay Conservative MP Nigel Evans. The Ribble Valley MP claimed he used contacts built up during his years as a parliamentary friend of Morocco to work on the release.
Evans also expressed concerns about the circumstances of Cole’s arrest, he said: “there seems to be wholesale corruption involved between certain individuals and the police.”
Last night, shortly after his release Cole spoke at Gatwick Airport saying: “I did not expect this at all – I thought I was going to be transferred to a different prison. They gave me a choice of staying in Morocco another night or getting the next flight back.
“You would not believe it, it’s horrendous. It’s not a prison, it’s a concentration camp. People are in there from the age of 10 to 80 and 90s for nothing. I can hardly move my arm from sleeping on the floor.” When asked about the support from his family he said: “I’m so proud of them – I could not have a better family.”
Mr Cole’s 41-year-old son, Adrian said in a statement: “We would like to thank each and every one of you, here and in Morocco who has helped our campaign to secure the release of our wonderful father. We would also like to thank the Moroccan authorities for showing compassion.”
Ray Cole is said to have struck up a friendship on Facebook with Mr Nass who is a Moroccan national. They later decided to meet in person but were arrested part of the way through Cole’s trip. Mr Nass is still believed to be in prison prompting Evans to pledge to use “the same diplomatic pressure that we used to get Ray released” to secure his release.
It is unclear whether Cole plans to take any action against the concierge.