Morocco continues to insist on concrete evidence from Amnesty International, following allegations of spyware use.
Rabat – Tension between Morocco and Amnesty International continues to grow after Morocco’s Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani announced that Amnesty International has not yet provided the material evidence of human rights allegations requested by the country.
“We, in the Moroccan government, are still insisting on providing us with a copy of the report of scientific expertise that was adopted to make these unfounded accusations, or publishing it to the public,” El Othmani told Morocco’s state media.
The head of government believes this is a more appropriate approach than “issuing a report full of expressions referring to hypotheses that contradict the standards of scientific expertise, which makes of the judgments contained in the report, in the form of assertion, mere expressions that lack any scientific basis to prove the association of the supposed breaches of specific phones in Morocco.”
In late June, the international human rights organization alleged the North African country of using Israeili NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to monitor journalist Omar Radi for more than a year. Morocco’s House of Representatives rejected the claims as “false allegations” against the country.
Members of the Parliament denounced the report on July 6 and called for Amnesty International “to improve its investigative work in order to achieve its noble mission, and not to take advantage of its position to try to damage the image of Morocco.”
Morocco pressed the organization for proof, and Amnesty International has since framed the country’s insistence on material evidence as a “smear campaign” against the NGO.
El Othmani stressed that Morocco has undertaken the dialogue in a responsible and logical approach. He emphasized that Amnesty International did not base its arguments on scientific evidence but on speculation, and that Morocco is committed to addressing the file with a scientific approach. He added that Morocco remains open to constructive dialogue with the organization’s representatives.
Amnesty International’s pattern of evasive response
According to El Othmani, Amnesty International’s Acting Secretary General, Julie Vierhar, replied to Morocco’s request on July 9, omitting the requested evidence.
Moroccan authorities insist that the organization presents its attestations in order to maintain its credibility, rebuild trust, and ensure successful dialogues moving forward.
Morocco World News reached out to Amnesty International several times for comment on the issue. A MENA media manager for the organization eventually replied, answering only three of our five questions.
He indicated that their “section of the report ‘Who is Behind These Attacks’ clearly outlines the evidence as to why we conclude that the Moroccan government actively remained a customer of NSO group until at least January 2020 and continues to unlawfully target human rights defenders, such as in the case of Omar Radi.”
He provided no response beyond his reference to the original report.
The spokesperson added that Amnesty International’s funding comes from “personal and unaffiliated donations” which allows the organization “to maintain full independence from any and all governments, political ideologies, economic interests or religions.” The response was a direct copy of text from Amnesty International’s official website.
Morocco World News followed up with further questions and informed the organization we were preparing to publish a comprehensive and well-documented investigation about Amnesty International. The organization responded and declined to comment.