Amnesty International’s infamous report has prompted an extended exchange between Moroccan officials and the organization’s representatives.
Rabat – Amnesty International’s (AI) spying allegations against Morocco are unfounded, said the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, criticizing the international organization for “having failed in the duty of neutrality and objectivity.”
In an interview with Swiss newspaper Tribune de Geneve, Bourita said AI’s recent report is “far from being in a dynamic of dialogue.” The report, published on June 22, accuses Moroccan security services of spying on journalist Omar Radi for over a year by infecting his phone with spyware.
The organization “carried out a real media campaign on the basis of unfounded accusations, hence misleading several media and journalists,” he added.
Amnesty International’s report tried to link Morocco to Israeli cyber intelligence firm NSO without providing substantial evidence to prove a connection.
The foreign minister’s statements come weeks after the Moroccan government’s request for evidence. However, the organization did not yet share any “verifiable data or evidence.”
Bourita criticized the report’s claims that only states can hack into phones through mobile operators. According to him, “devices that mimic network signals and hack into mobile phones are sold online.”
The minister also condemned “the tone used in [AI’s] publications and tweets,” saying “we do not think that ‘name and shame’ is the best way to get things done.”
Moroccan officials have stressed that Amnesty International’s response does not adequately address the state’s questions.
“What we were looking for was a detailed report substantiating the allegations of espionage. We have requested access to the chain of custody of the phone in question, including software and hardware, so that the competent Moroccan authorities can properly conduct their counter-investigation, because a lot of work is needed to understand how the hacking could have been carried out,” Bourita explained.
He stressed the Moroccan government’s need to have information about Amnesty International’s sources, in case “someone is wiretapping” Moroccan citizens.
Morocco World News has also requested on several occasions that Amnesty International share evidence for its claims against Morocco, among other inquiries. Some of our questions received evasive, form answers, and others received no answers at all.
On Monday, July 13, an Israeli court decided to dismiss Amnesty International’s complaint against NSO. It justified the decision by AI’s failure to prove that its Pegasus spying software “was used to spy on Amnesty activists.”
“This is another case in which AI speaks without evidence,” Bourita said, adding that similar cases “raise serious doubts about their methodology” and that “Morocco will not give in to this blackmail.”
Commenting on the allegations contained in the report, the foreign minister pointed out that AI’s claims “sweep away more than two decades of achievements in human rights, recognized by all.”
The report places Morocco “in the same category as countries that have committed real atrocities against their own people,” he deplored.
Morocco is a country that believes in freedom of expression, Bourita emphasized, recalling that in the year 2020 alone, AI has published seven “tendentious” reports on Morocco, in addition to approximately 72 documents that have been “openly unfavorable” to the country, without prompting any reaction from Moroccan authorities.
“We do not expect to be spared, even less flattered, but the reforms undertaken by Morocco in the field of human rights have been marked with courage and openness,” he said.
The minister admitted that Morocco’s human rights’ trajectory is “not perfect,” but the progress is still tangible and matches citizens’ expectations.
“Such accusations affect both the national security of a state and the individual freedoms of its citizens. The double dimension requires a lot of caution and nuance. We criticize AI for having failed in the duty of neutrality and objectivity and for lack of professionalism,” he concluded.