Amnesty International published a report on June 22 containing allegations that Moroccan security services used malware to spy on a journalist for over a year.
Rabat – Morocco’s Ministry of State for Human Rights denied receiving any correspondence from Amnesty International (AI) before the organization published its report accusing the Moroccan state of spying on journalist Omar Radi, said a press release from the ministry.
The ministry issued the press release on Monday, July 6, in response to a letter Amnesty International sent to Morocco’s Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani on Friday, July 3, in which it claimed sending emails regarding the report to five executives at the Moroccan ministry on June 9.
According to Amnesty International’s most recent letter, the organization attempted to ask for a response from the Moroccan government before publishing its report and sharing it with international media.
The Ministry of State for Human Rights’ press release tackled two main points.
“First, the executives at the ministry … who were mentioned in [AI’s] letter assured the minister of state, in writing, that they did not receive any emails about the matter, neither in the mentioned date, nor in any other date,” said the document.
“Second, if it was possible for Amnesty International to contact executives at the ministry of state via email, such as it claimed, the material and technical data available for the ministry proves that the mentioned executives did not receive any correspondence on the matter,” the statement added.
At the end of the press release, the ministry recalled that in official correspondences, there are “various ways for verifying the message’s reception,” but the organization did not follow any standard protocol.
A lack of material evidence to back the allegations
The press release is the latest in a series of exchanges between the Moroccan government and AI that began on June 22, after the organization released a report claiming that Moroccan security services spied on journalist Omar Radi for over a year, infecting his phone with spyware.
“The Kingdom of Morocco reiterates its full rejection of the latest reports by AI, which operates under an agenda of its own, for reasons unrelated to the defense of human rights,” said Government Spokesperson Saaid Amzazi following a 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 the organization on the veracity of physical evidence used against Morocco on this matter,” he continued.
In response to the statement, Amnesty International Regional Director Middle East and North Africa, Heba Morayef, addressed a letter to El Othmani on July 3—the letter that has been rejected twice.
In an initial response from the Moroccan government, Hasna Tribak, Director of Legal Studies and International Cooperation at the Ministry of State for Human Rights said the government is still waiting for the organization to provide tangible evidence proving conclusively that Moroccan authorities infected Omar Radi’s cell phone with spyware.
The letter “simply repeats the same light allegations and gratuitous accusations contained in the report, without providing scientific evidence or objective arguments,” Tribak said.
Morocco’s ‘smear campaign’ in requesting evidence
While Morocco was still waiting to receive tangible evidence to the spying allegations, AI published a press release on July 4 claiming that Morocco has launched a “smear campaign” against it.
The document claimed that Morocco is seeking to “discredit” the organization instead of “engaging constructively with the findings” of its report. It also 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.”
Morocco World News attempted to contact Amnesty International for comment on the June 22 report several times. After five days and five attempts, Mohammed Abunajela, an Amnesty International media manager for the MENA, offered vague or evasive answers to three of our five questions.
Each answer either referred us to previous Amnesty International reports or pages on its website, or directly quoted its official website.
Our questions regarding the extent to which donors influence Amnesty International’s mission and views of the countries on which it reports, and regarding AI’s response to the Moroccan government’s reactions to the June 22 report, went unanswered.