A Casablanca court has sentenced award-winning investigative journalist and human rights activist Omar Radi to six years in prison, in a trial riddled by breaches of due process.
On 29 July 2020, Radi was arrested and charged with “harming the internal and external security of Morocco” and of receiving funds from sources “linked to foreign intelligence agencies”.
Before his arrest, Omar Radi was subjected to frequent harassment by the authorities because of his brave journalistic work criticising human rights violations and exposing corruption.
Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Amna Guellali said:
“Ever since his trial began it has been marred by flaws.
“He has been deprived of the right to prepare a proper defence, he and his legal team were denied the right to access some of the evidence against him and all requests to summon defence witnesses in the cases against him were denied.
He has also been held in solitary confinement for nearly a year.
“Condemning someone to six years in prison after such flawed proceedings is not justice.
“The authorities must urgently grant him a fair retrial in line with international standards.”
As one of the founders of Le Desk –an independent Moroccan news site publishing content critical of the government, Radi’s works focused on politics and exposing corruption.
Amnesty considers these trumped-up charges of espionage as they relate to research grants as journalism fellowship and freelance consultancies, both protected by his right to freedom of expression.
Radi was also charged with “rape” and “indecent assault against a female” after a former Le Desk colleague alleged he assaulted her. He has denied the accusation.
In June 2020, an Amnesty report revealed that Omar Radi had been targeted by the Moroccan authorities using spyware produced by the Israeli company NSO Group.
Following this, the Moroccan authorities launched a smear campaign against Amnesty, attempting to discredit the organisation’s findings and distract from the unlawful surveillance of human rights defenders and journalists in the country.