Morocco has rejected the letter that Amnesty International sent to the Moroccan government regarding the spying allegations surrounding journalist Omar Radi.
Rabat – Morocco has rejected the letter that Amnesty International sent to the Moroccan government regarding the spying allegations surrounding journalist Omar Radi.
In a statement to the press on Saturday, Hasna Tribak, Director of Legal Studies and International Cooperation at the Ministry of State for Human Rights and Relations with the Parliament, said the government is still waiting for Amnesty International to provide tangible evidence proving conclusively that Moroccan authorities infected Omar Radi’s cell phone with spyware.
“Moroccan authorities are still awaiting a response to the letter from the Head of Government from the recipient. The Moroccan authorities are also still awaiting the convincing scientific evidence they have requested,” said Tribak on July 4.
Morocco rejected on Thursday the allegations contained in the report that Amnesty International released on June 22, in which it claimed that Omar Radi has been targeted by Moroccan security service over a period of more than a year.
“The Kingdom of Morocco reiterates its full rejection of the latest reports by Amnesty International, which operates under an agenda of its own, for reasons unrelated to the defense of human rights,” the government said following its council meeting on July 2.
“The Kingdom of Morocco, which has been the victim to an unjust international smear campaign, insists on obtaining an official response from this organization on the veracity of physical evidence used against Morocco on this matter,” it concluded.
Following the council meeting, Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani summoned Amnesty International’s acting secretary-general and urged her to provide conclusive evidence pointing to Morocco’s responsibility in spying on Omar Radi.
In response to the statement on Thursday, Amnesty International Regional Director Middle East and North Africa, Heba Morayef, addressed a letter to the head of the Moroccan government on Friday, in which it doubled down on its allegations, repeating the same claims contained in its June 22 report.
The condescending letter merely referenced past instances in which Morocco was accused of using spyware to target opponents to establish authorities’ responsibility in Omar Radi’s case.
Morocco rejected the letter on Saturday. At the substantive level, the letter “simply repeats the same light allegations and gratuitous accusations contained in the report, without providing scientific evidence or objective arguments,” Tribak said.
In addition to rejecting the allegations contained in the letter, the Moroccan government has also rejected its form.
“The letter of the Regional Director does not respond to the correspondence of the head of government. The Regional Director is neither the recipient nor the level at which the head of government addressed it,” Tribak said.
Amnesty International published a press release on Saturday in which it claimed that Morocco has launched a “smear campaign” against it. The release quotes parts of Morayef’s letter to the head of the government, claiming that Morocco is seeking to “discredit” the organization instead of “engaging constructively with the findings” of its report.
The letter urged the Moroccan government to “urgently halt the unlawful surveillance of journalists and human rights defenders, which violates their rights to privacy and freedom of expression.”
It further urged Morocco to “respect and protect the rights of HRDs and civil society organizations and ensure clear and transparent modes of communications with them, as enshrined in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.”
The overtone of the letter sent to the head of the Moroccan government starkly contrasts with the overtone of the report that Amnesty International released in 2017 following Edward Snowden’s revelations that the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) agencies engaged in a massive program to spy on the internet and phone activity of hundreds of millions of people across the globe, including in the US and the UK.
Notwithstanding the fact that the spying operations did not only target few journalists or activists suspected of colluding with foreign governments, but targeted hundreds of millions of ordinary citizens, Amnesty International’s report on the unprecedented scandal did not include a single word of condemnation of the trampling of human rights.
It simply included recommendations that were carefully worded and where the legality of US and British agencies was not even questioned.
The report respectfully called on the US and the UK to reform their national laws “to ensure that they comply with international human rights law and standards, including by not allowing for indiscriminate mass surveillance.”