Surveillance: How Morocco intimidates critics

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Morocco is democratic to the outside world. But anyone who criticizes the royal family like journalist Omar Radi will be legally persecuted and publicly insulted.


Omar Radi on the way to interrogation with the Moroccan police © Mohamed Drissi Kamili / Le Desk

Radi had been locked up once before. In a tweet, he described a judge as a dishonorable official because he had sentenced political activists from the Rif region in northern Morocco to long prison terms. But what happens to Radi is more serious. He is accused of being a foreign spy and thus an enemy of the state. It is officially investigated against him, he is said to have received “foreign money” as a payment for intelligence.

Intimidation tactics

Radi actually got money; together with journalists from many other countries, he received a scholarship from the Bertha Foundation, a foundation based in Switzerland. The foundation supports lawyers, journalists and activists worldwide who stand up against social injustice. Radi also makes money from translating texts from Arabic or into Arabic for companies. Now, however, his normal work in investigators’ accounts becomes a dangerous accusation.

“The Moroccan authorities are trying to intimidate journalists. And being an enemy of the state is pretty much the worst accusation that can be made in Morocco,” says Mohamed Amjahid. The journalist and author comes from Morocco himself and has written a lot about the country and also about Radi. “You can go to jail for life for this and it is also something like a red line in society. This accusation is very effective to destroy someone.”

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