Investigative journalist Omar Radi, who was previously on hunger strike, has been convicted in Morocco of rape and national security offenses. He has been sentenced to 6 years in prison after being held in pretrial detention for nearly a year. His conviction follows another recent conviction of a journalist on similar charges, who has also been critical of the government. The case against Mr. Radi was initiated shortly after allegations emerged that the Moroccan authorities were monitoring his phone.
“Credible allegations of rape should be investigated, but the court limited Mr. Radi’s ability to present evidence in his defense. This is especially concerning in light of a recent pattern in Morocco of convicting journalists on similar charges,” said Professor Hannah Garry, Director of the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law Human Rights Clinic, which monitored the trial as part of the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch initiative.
Based on reports from TrialWatch’s monitors inside the courtroom, the court’s treatment of evidence was unacceptable throughout the proceedings. Mr. Radi was not allowed to call a number of key witnesses, including Arnaud Simons—the man the prosecution said was Mr. Radi’s Dutch intelligence ‘handler’ as part of the national security allegations against him. This was despite the fact Mr. Simons identified himself publicly, volunteered to testify, and said the allegations against Mr. Radi were not true. “The prosecution presented little evidence that Mr. Radi did anything other than journalistic and investigative work. It is hard to see the basis for convicting him of national security offenses,” said Professor Garry. “Further, it is deeply concerning that Mr. Radi has been held in detention before and during trial for nearly a year”.