Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF) is calling on Moroccan authorities to release investigative and human rights journalist Omar Radi and drop all charges against him.
Radi was on Wednesday July 29th presented before an investigating judge of the Casablanca court of Appeal, he was charged for undermining the internal and external security of the state, rape and indecent assault with violence.
The investigative journalist is believed to have become a target of authority because of his investigative work and open criticism of government policies, and he especially became popular since he was first arrested on December 26 2019, after he was arrested for a tweet he made in April that defended anti-government protesters.
In an interview with Democracy Now, the journalist said that no evidence has been provided with regards to his charge of undermining national security.
The journalist revealed that prior to his recent arrest, he had been following up land issues in the country, “this year I worked a lot on land dispossession, because in Morocco we have collective land ownership, and the tribal lands are very large in Morocco, and the state is trying to get these lands and to inject them into the market. And there is a lot of injustice in these policies, because people are not compensated well, and these lands are revaluated very highly, and it’s all benefits to the big capital in Morocco actually. So I work on land grabbing, land dispossessions. I also work on finance sectors and the relationship between the power and business in Morocco. That’s my framework, and also human rights”.
Radi’s lawyer has denied all the charges against him, while the journalist has not been allowed any visitors, not even his lawyer or his parents.
AMDF is concerned over the continued detention of Omar Radi at the Oukacha prison which is reported to be a COVID-19 hot spot in the country.
In July 2020, 65 year old Egyptian journalist, Mohammed Monir was reported to have died after contracting Covid – 19 in pretrial detention. The journalist had earlier tested positive to the disease after he fell sick while in detention. Monir had before his death said “even brief detentions amid the COVID-19 pandemic can mean a death sentence” reads the Facebook post. His death was later announced by Sarah Monir his daughter.
The Radi’s trial is set to begin on September 22, if convicted of undermining national security under articles 191 and 206 of the Moroccan penal code could face a fine of 1,000 to 10,000 dirhams ($107 to $1,071) and one to five years in prison.
AMDF is calling for the unconditional release of Omar Radi, and an end to oppression of journalists in Morocco through unlawful detention, intimidation arrests and imprisonment.
Journalism is never a threat to any nation, but a powerful tool to bring about sustainable development.