Hundreds of people denounced the arrest of the journalist in a protest held in Rabat on Saturday December 28.
In a statement in support of Radi, HWR’s Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson said, “Criticizing officials is protected speech and no one should face prison time for peacefully doing it.”
She added that Morocco’s authorities should “immediately free Omar Radi and drop their case against him, which reeks of political vengeance against his critical journalism and activism.”
Radi’s arrest and detention is due to an April tweet in which he lashed out at to criticize a Casablanca Court judge for the harsh sentences pronounced against Hirak movement in Northern Morocco.
Following the much-publicized trial of Hirak Rif activists, Radi posted a tweet to denounce the sentences pronounced by Judge Lahcen Lotfi, who handed the Rif activists sentences ranging between 1 to 20 years in prison for participating in “unauthorized” protests in the Al Hoceima province in 2016 and 2017.
“Let us all remember Appeals Judge Lahcen Tolfi, the enforcer against our brothers. In many regimes, small-time henchmen like him come back begging, later, claiming they were only ‘carrying out orders.’ No forgetting or forgiveness with such undignified officials!” Radi said in his tweet in April of last year.
In statement, HRW’s Whitson said that was only arrested because of his activism and freedom of speech advocacy, arguing that his detention is stain on Morocco’s status as a regional “exception. She said, “If you express your dissatisfaction of the government on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter, you risk jail in Morocco. Not great for a country that still postures as a ‘liberal exception’ in the Arab world.”
On Saturday, December 28, hundreds of activists and journalists flocked to Rabat in front of the parliament to denounce the arrest of the journalist.
Activists chanted several slogans including “this state is corrupt” and “we will not give up.”
With his trial scheduled for January 2, Radi reportedly risks up to 2 years in prison.