Rabat – Moroccan authorities have released a statement to categorically reject Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) allegations, which implicitly support claims by journalist Omar Radi and Amnesty International (AI) that Morocco’s government cyber-spied on the journalist’s phone.
On Wednesday, Moroccan public authorities expressed their categorical rejection of the “slanderous” publication that HRW released on September 21.
In its report, Human Rights Watch questioned motivations behind the arrest of Omar Radi, who is facing charges of “receiving funds from a foreign agent and violent rape.”
The NGO termed the journalist’s arrest “filmy” and “political.”
In response, authorities said the publication seeks to “confuse public opinion and create an impression that the national judicial system is not independent.”
Authorities underlined that the Moroccan judiciary is the only legitimate body to determine Omar Radi’s involvement in criminal acts under the penal code.
Morocco also denied allegations that Radi’s work as a journalist factors into the prosecution.
“This lawsuit is in no way linked to the exercise by the person concerned of his function as a journalist, whether it be his articles or his investigations, that only the Moroccan Press and Publishing Code is empowered to govern,” the statement stressed.
A judge decided to put Omar Radi in jail on July 29.
The decision came after Radi’s alleged rape victim Hafsa Boutahar filed a complaint aganst him.
His imprisonment prompted backlash from Omar Radi’s supporters and human rights activists, including Human Rights Watch.
In its report, HRW meticulously outlined Radi’s case without detailing the alleged rape victim’s side of the story.
The NGO insisted that Hafsa Boutahar has the right to pursue her case, but framed her as an “accuser” rather than an “alleged victim.”
The HRW report has a similar tone to an investigation that Amnesty International published on June 22, accusing Morocco of targeting Omar Radi for his critical journalism.
In response, public authorities denounced HRW’s interference and its attempts to “play roles that have nothing to do with the tasks of defending human rights” by politicizing and implicitly pre-judging a legal case.
Authorities deplored the intention of the recent HRW publication, which constitutes an “abuse of research and judicial investigations.”
The statement also said Human Rights Watch’s claims lack objectivity and align with the NGO’s “biased” approach of “selectively” assessing human rights in Morocco.
Omar Radi continues to reject and deny all accusations against him, including rape.
The journalist said what he had with Boutahar, who worked with him at news outlet Le Desk, was a consensual sexual relationship.
Boutahar accused the journalist of violently raping her at 2 a.m. on July 13 at the house of her bosses, where Le Desk employees were working.