On July 29th the Attorney General at the Casablanca Court of Appeal requested the prosecution of controversial Moroccan journalist Omar Radi, currently under arrest on several charges.
The first charge was for alleged indecent assault with violence and rape following a complaint filed by his colleague, a journalist also working at the Le Desk.ma website.
Secondly, Radi is alleged to have been in receipt of foreign funds with the aim of undermining the internal security of the State, and of carrying out contacts with agents of foreign delegations in Morocco, especially Dutch diplomats, collecting strategic information on the situation in the Rif area. The aim, it was stated, was to harm Morocco’s diplomatic relations.
Thirdly, he has allegedly received significant transfers of money from abroad, notably from the pan-Arab channel Al-Mayadine, run since its creation in 2011 by Tunisian Ghassane Ben Jeddou. This channel is controlled and funded by the “Iranian Axis of Evil”, the Lebanese Hizbollah, and the Syrian regime.
Finally, it was also alleged that Radi deliberately failed to declare substantial income received from abroad, as not to have to justify the origin of funds and to avoid taxes.
Radi had also posted a provocative tweet on April 6th, 2019, considered as an attack on the judiciary and for which he had previously received a four months suspended jail sentence and a fine of 500 dirhams (50 euros). He has launched an appeal against the verdict, which is scheduled to be heard on September 23rd, 2020.
Omar Radi had been questioned eight times on the new cases by the Casablanca Judicial Police since June 24th, 2020, without being arrested. He disseminated his own version of the facts via social networks.
However, the government considered this as a form of illegal pressure on the Moroccan judicial authorities, bound by the secrecy of the investigation. The high point of this strategy was the press conference, organised on July 15th, 2020 at the headquarters of the National Union of the Moroccan Press in Rabat, in the presence of his defence lawyer, to expose elements of the investigation without any consideration of obligations to secrecy concerning the cases against him.
Prior to the charges he currently faces, Radi had carried out his professional work without hindrance, or persecution. He now, however, appears to seek to present himself as a victim of persecution as a result of government persecution.
The Moroccan media landscape is characterised by its diversity, dynamism and the multiplication of its actors: it is a country with 2740 press cards in 2019 and 91 foreign correspondents from 50 media outlets.
For the year 2019, out of 252 publications and newspapers that filed for administrative filing, no single publication was censored, banned or withdrawn.