“Disgraceful” prison sentences passed on two Moroccan journalists.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the grossly unjust prison sentences that two Moroccan journalists, Omar Radi and Imad Stitou, received from a court in Casablanca yesterday after proceedings marked by many irregularities.
Convicted on charges of rape and espionage, Radi was sentenced to six years in prison, while Stitou was sentenced to 12 months in prison – of which six were suspended – on a charge of failing to report a crime.
“These convictions are a disgrace,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “At the height of the Pegasus revelations and just days after a similar verdict in the case of Souleiman Raissouni, the Moroccan judicial system continues to deny the iniquity of its prosecutions and has again imposed heavy prison sentences on journalists after denying them due process.”
The Moroccan authorities began investigating Radi on suspicion of spying in late June 2020, just days after Amnesty International reported that they had used the Pegasus spyware app made by the Israeli company NSO Group to hack into Radi’s phone and monitor his activities.
Just weeks later, he was suddenly questioned in connection the rape and sexual harassment allegations that had just been made against him by a woman journalist with whom he used to work. He was then jailed on 29 July 2020 pending trial.
Although Radi was the subject of separate spying and rape charges, they were lumped together by the authorities in a manner that raises serious doubts about the fairness of the proceedings, especially as the authorities have had him in their sights for years as a human rights defender and co-founder of the Le Desk news website.
He was previously given a four-month suspended prison sentence in December 2019 on a contempt of court charge based on nothing more than a tweet that he had posted eight months earlier.
Stitou was convicted of “failure to report a crime” – a charge brought against him after he testified for the defence that Radi had a “consensual relationship” with the woman journalist who was now accusing him of rape.
While detained pending trial, Radi went on hunger strike but had to call it off after 21 days because of health problems connected with the Crohn’s disease from which he suffers. He has been in poor health ever since.
Morocco is ranked 136th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.