| 24 May 2024, Friday |

Morocco tries journalist Omar Radi in closed session

Activists condemn Moroccan judge’s decision to hold the trial of journalist and human rights activist Omar Radi in a closed court session yesterday, the judge had said this was “out of respect for the plaintiff’s reputation”.

Radi, 34, is being prosecuted for sexual assault based on a complaint filed by one of his female colleagues, who confirmed her account before the court and denied “any political motives” behind her allegations according to statements made by her defence lawyer, Abdel Karim Malih, to Agence France-Presse (AFP) yesterday.

The plaintiff requested one million dirham in compensation ($111,000).

Radi, however, said their relationship was “consensual”, with his defence arguing that there is no means to prove the charge.

He also faces a charge of rape along with fellow journalist Imad Stitou, 32. Stitou was a witness in support of Radi’s statements, however authorities later charged him in the case.

According to AFP, Stitou confirmed Radi’s account in court, as the two journalists are being pursued together in another trial on charges of “public intoxication”.

Radi, who is known for his critical views of the authorities, also faces a charge of espionage based on his relationship with the two British companies, G3 for strategic intelligence and K2 for economic consultancy, in addition to having ties with a Belgian citizen named Arnold Simon who previously worked at the Dutch embassy in Rabat.

The journalist explained to the court that he worked with the two companies to complete two studies on investing in a Moroccan company and planting palm trees. However, the Public Prosecution confirmed on Friday that the authorities believe the relations were related to spying.

Simon requested the judge grant him permission to appear in court, however this was refused.

Radi was arrested following a report issued by Amnesty International accusing the authorities of “spying on his phone”, which Rabat strongly denied.

Iin 2020, he has previously received a four-month suspended sentence for “prejudice against the judiciary”.

Local and international human rights organisations, political parties and intellectuals have called for the release of journalists who are being held being held in Moroccan detention.