Moroccan journalist questioned for fifth time in three weeks

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates its call to the Moroccan authorities to stop harassing Omar Radi, a reporter and human right defender who was questioned by police yesterday for the fifth time in three weeks in what officials have called an investigation into the receipt of “funds from abroad in connection with intelligence services.”

At a press conference at the Moroccan National Press Union (SNPM) in Rabat, his first since this wave of interrogations began, Radi denied the allegation being made against him and said they were prompted by an Amnesty International report that the Moroccan authorities had used a spyware app called Pegasus, developed by the Israeli tech company NSO Group, to hack into his phone in 2019 and monitor his activities.

A co-creator of the news website Le Desk who is well known for investigating corruption and for covering the “Hirak” protests in northern Morocco’s Rif region in 2016 and 2017, the 33-year-old Radi said he had been under surveillance “for months if not years” and suggested the surveillance may even have begun in 2011.

“We condemn the judicial harassment to which Omar Radi is being subjected,” said Souhaieb Khayati, the director of RSF’s North Africa bureau. “The Moroccan authorities must shed all possible light on the illegal surveillance of this journalist instead of persecuting him.”

At the press conference, Radi also accused pro-government media of publishing defamatory articles about him and of using arguments to incriminate him that were based on claims made during the interrogations.

Morocco is ranked 133rd out of 180 countries and territories in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.