Journalist jailed in Morocco over tweet criticizing judge

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of Omar Radi, a journalist and human rights activist who was jailed yesterday in Casablanca for criticizing a judge in a tweet last April. The Moroccan authorities must stop prosecuting journalists under the criminal code, RSF said.

Radi was jailed on a charge of “contempt of court” for tweeting criticism of a Casablanca appeal court judge who imposed sentences of up to 20 years in prison on a total of 42 people for participating in the so-called “Hirak” protests in northern Morocco’s Rif region in 2016 and 2017.

After responding to a summons from the judicial police yesterday morning, Radi was taken before a prosecutor, who ordered him detained provisionally under article 263 of the criminal code, under which contempt of court is punishable by up to a month in prison. When Radi’s trial on the contempt charge began later yesterday, the court rejected his lawyers’ request for his provisional release and adjourned the case until 2 January.

We call for Omar Radi’s immediate release, because no journalist should be prosecuted under the criminal code, and we urge the Moroccan authorities to repeal all criminal code articles applicable to free speech and the freedom to inform, in accordance with Morocco’s constitution and its international obligations,” RSF said. “These criminal code provisions continue to hang over Moroccan journalists like a permanent threat although the 2016 press law abolishes prisons sentences for journalists.”

Morocco is ranked 135th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.