Urgent Action: Journalist Facing Legal Harassment (Morocco: UA 136.20)
September 1, 2020
On 29 July 2020, Moroccan journalist Omar Radi was charged with “harming national security” and “rape”. The Moroccan authorities had been harassing him since the publication in June 2020 of an Amnesty International report revealing they had unlawfully spied on him through his phone. Omar Radi is a vocal critic of the government’s human rights record and has investigated corruption by the authorities.
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Head of Government Saad Dine El-Othmani Palais Royal Touarga, Rabat 10070
Fax: +212 53 7771010
Her Highness Princess Lalla Joumala Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco
3508 International Drive NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 462 7979 I Fax: 202 462 7643
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Your Highness
I am writing to raise concerns that the Moroccan authorities are subjecting Moroccan journalist Omar Radi to legal harassment. On 25 June 2020 and six subsequent occasions in July 2020, he was summoned by the Central Bureau for Judicial Investigations and questioned about phone calls and text messages dating back to 2011 and transfers of funds to his bank account. On 29 July, he was charged and detained and is due to stand trial before the First Instance Court of Casablanca on 22 September 2020. On 22 June Amnesty International published a report revealing that he had been targeted for surveillance through spyware on his phone.
Omar Radi is charged with “harming national security” based on an accusation that he received funds from sources linked to foreign intelligence agencies. Amnesty International understands that funds transferred from abroad were actually for research grants in the context of a journalism fellowship and freelance consultancies. Amnesty International therefore has serious concerns that the charge is spurious and indicates an intensification of government harassment. He is also charged with “rape”, based on an accusation by a woman who alleges he assaulted her on 12 July. He denies this, affirming that he had a “consensual sexual relationship” with her. Sexual assault is a serious offense and accusations of such conduct, if genuine, warrant investigation and prosecution before a fair trial. While such accusations must each be considered on their merits and Amnesty International is not well placed to assess their veracity, I note with concern that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found in another case that the publisher of an opposition newspaper was accused of rape and arbitrarily detained in what amounted to “judicial harassment attributable to nothing other than his investigative journalism”.
I urge the Moroccan authorities to drop the “national security” charge against Omar Radi. I ask you to impartially and thoroughly investigate the complaint on which the “rape” charge is based while guaranteeing his due process rights. In accordance with the right to presumption of innocence, I call on you to release Omar Radi pending trial unless you can demonstrate to a court that it is necessary and proportionate to deprive him of his liberty.