Omar Radi’s unfounded allegations of judicial harassment

Moroccan journalist is facing three legal charges which have nothing to do with his right to exercise his profession or freedom of speech, contrary to his supporters' claim that his detention is government’s way of silencing dissent. 

LONDON – Moroccan journalist Omar Radi has started to bring forward several allegations related to intimidation and judicial harassment, following the initiation of legal proceedings against him either by the public prosecutor or by private individuals after freely exercising his profession, wrote Gary Cartwright for EU Political Report.

Radi had never complained of any infringement or restriction in this regard, either to the competent judicial authorities or to the competent national institutions until the end of 2019, explained freelance journalist Cartwright.

Radi is facing three legal allegations against him which were are related to the profession he is exercising.

The first case brought against him was the tweet he published on April 16, 2019 in which he criticised the judge who sentenced Hirak activists to up to 20 years in prison.

“Lehcen Talfi, judge of the court of appeal, executioner of our brothers, let us remember him well, in many regimes the little arms like him have returned afterwards to beg by claiming (to have carried out orders); no forgetting no forgiveness for these officials without dignity,” tweeted Radi.

The Moroccan journalist was handed March 17 a four-month suspended sentence and a 500 dirham ($52) fine on charges of insulting a judge on Twitter. He appealed the decision and the hearing will be held September 23.

The second case was Radi’s alleged links with foreign intelligence bodies. On June 24, Radi was summoned by the National Brigade of the Judicial Police (BNPJ) for a probe into his alleged involvement in a case of receiving funds from abroad in connection with foreign intelligence services with the goal of harming internal state security.

“Radi cultivated contacts with agents of foreign countries in order to undermine Morocco's diplomatic position,” said the justice ministry on July 29 in a statement.

The investigation into Radi's purported receipt of foreign funds began in late June, the day after a report by Amnesty International alleged that Pegasus software developed by Israeli security firm NSO Group was used to hack the journalist's mobile phone.

Moroccan authorities denounced Amnesty's “baseless” accusation, demanding the rights group provide scientific evidence to prove its claims.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita told La Tribune de Geneve in mid-July that Amnesty's spying charges against Morocco were unfounded.

Bourita accused the London-based rights group of failing its duty of neutrality and objectivity.

“Far from being in a dynamic of dialogue, they carried out a real media campaign on the basis of unfounded accusations, misleading several media and journalists,” said Bourita.

“It’s huge and totally wrong. We unequivocally reject these accusations,” he added.

The third case is the investigation into “offences relating to indecent assault with violence and rape” after a citizen filed a complaint.

On July 29, the investigating judge decided to place Radi under pre-trial detention on charges of rape and receiving foreign funds for the purpose of harming “state security.”

The rape victim, who is Radi’s colleague, told Middle East Online that he jumped on her and raped her while she was talking on the phone with her fiancé who lives abroad at one of her directors’ house.

Radi’s supporters claim that his detention is the government’s way of silencing dissent. 

But Cartwright said that Morocco has long worked to consolidate the institutional independence of the judicial power and to ensure the efficiency and proper functioning of justice, in particular by strengthening the legislative framework of the judicial system, by virtue of the constitutional requirements for this subject.

He accused Radi of disclosing elements of the investigations in an obvious attempt to maintain the misleading perception of an alleged “judicial harassment” against him because of his critical views of the government.