Morocco: end the judicial harassment against journalist Omar Radi

Morocco / Western Sahara, Press Release

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The undersigned international Human Rights organisations call on the Moroccan authorities to immediately end their harassment of Moroccan journalist Omar Radi.

Seven. This is the number of times Omar Radi, the head of investigations for the Moroccan news site Le Desk, was summoned by the National Brigade of Judiciary Police in less than a month, as part of an “investigation into [his] alleged involvement in receiving foreign funding, linked to foreign intelligence services.”

Mr. Radi, who strongly challenges the accusations against him, was first heard on June 25th, three days after the publication of a report[1] by Amnesty International on the electronic surveillance his smartphone was subjected to, using the Pegasus spyware designed by the Israeli company NSO Group. Moroccan authorities denied involvement, and harshly criticised the report. Mr. Radi was then summoned again by the police on July 2nd, 9th, 13th, 15th, 17th and 20th.

The multiple summonses, each resulting in 6 to 9 hours-long interrogation sessions, appear to be aimed at exerting psychological pressure on Mr. Radi, possibly in retaliation for his journalistic work. [2]

Mr. Radi was arrested on December 25, 2019, 8 months after he posted a critical tweet about a court ruling convicting leaders of socio-economic protests in the Rif region.[3] He was held in detention for six days before he was freed on bail, then sentenced, in March 2020, to four months of suspended prison time for “insulting a magistrate.”

We, the undersigned human rights organisations:

  • Call on the Moroccan authorities to immediately stop harassing journalist Omar Radi;
  • Denounce the incessant smear campaigns against him in media outlets widely reported to be close to Moroccan authorities;[4]
  • Call on the Moroccan authorities to guarantee that journalists are able to carry out their work freely, without fear of reprisal;
  • Call on Moroccan authorities to guarantee that human rights defenders in Morocco are able to carry out their human rights work without fear of reprisal including judicial harassment.
  • Express our concern over the multiplication of trials violating the right to free speech.[5]
  • Request that the authorities respect free speech international agreements that Morocco ratified.

Co-signatories:

  • EuroMed Rights
  • Front Line Defenders[6]
  • ARTICLE 19
  • FIDH, in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders[7]
  • World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Freedom House
  • Reporters Without Borders[8]

[1]ttps://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2020/06/moroccan-journalist-targeted-with-network-injection-attacks-using-nso-groups-tools/

[2] http://amdh.org.ma/contents/display/342

[3] As a reminder, EuroMed Rights,  its Moroccan member organisations and Article 19 published on January 2020 a statement in support of Omar Radi during a trial for a tweet critical of a court decision (the tweet denounced the harshness of the sentences against the leaders of the Hirak)
https://euromedrights.org/fr/publication/au-maroc-la-liberte-dexpression-desormais-suspendue-a-un-tweet/

[4]“In Morocco, 110 journalists are mobilising against“ defamation media” https://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2020/07/16/au-maroc-110-journalistes-se-mobilisent-contre-les%20-medias-de-defamation_6046424_3212.html

[5] https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2020/02/05/maroc-campagne-de-repression-contre-les-utilisateurs-de-reseaux-sociaux

[6] https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/judicial-harassment-journalist-and-human-rights-defender-omar-radi

[7]“Morocco: Judicial harassment following the observation of Mr. Omar Radi” https://www.fidh.org/fr/themes/defenseurs-des-droits-humains/maroc-harcelement-judiciaire-a-l-encontre-de-m-omar-radi

[8]“RSF calls on the Moroccan authorities to stop harassing journalist Omar Radi” https://rsf.org/fr/actualites/rsf-appelle-les-autorites-marocaines-cesser-de-harceler-le-journaliste-omar-radi