The union also condemned NGOs and some international press for accusing the rape complainant of false motives without legal evidence.
Rabat – Morocco’s National Press Union issued a statement to express concern regarding the case of journalist Omar Radi, facing accusations of “violent rape” and “receiving funds from a foreign agent.”
The statement comes to reiterate the union’s approach to the case. The union supports the principle of the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial as part of its commitment to freedom of the press.
A failed call for multilateral investigation into the Omar Radi spyware case
The union held a meeting with Omar Radi on July 1 to discuss the charges linking him to a foreign agent.
The meeting, according to the union, aimed to collect data regarding the Amnesty International report published in June. The report claimed Morocco targeted the journalist’s phone with spyware.
During the meeting, the union argued that it cannot reply to the reports from NGOs with “certainty.”
Press union members suggested that Radi’s phone undergo an investigation by multiple parties due to the unilateral nature of Amnesty International’s accusatory spying report. They advised involving experts approved by both the union and Amnesty International, as well as Radi’s personal representative.
The union, however, regretted that due to frequent events in the case’s development, it was not possible to complete the investigation.
The union said it will continue monitoring the case. It vehemently supports approaching the file with the presumption of innocence, and aims to ensure conditions for a fair trial.
Supporting the rights of Hasfa Boutahar
The union also commented on the rape allegations filed against the journalist, arguing that the alleged victim has the right to be heard.
In July, Moroccan police received a complaint from Hafsa Boutahar, a colleague of Omar Radi. The woman accused the journalist of raping her.
Some of Radi’s supporters and NGOs condemned the accusations, describing Boutahar’s move as part of a conspiracy.
The union said that it met with Hafsa Boutahar to review the situation, at her request, and supports her right to file a complaint of sexual aggression.
Any attempt to paint Boutahar as a conspirator against Omar Radi violates her right to seek justice, the union underlined.
Denouncing ‘hypocritical’ Western perspectives
The press union also condemned the “trend” adopted by some foreign media and NGOs who dismissed the alleged victim’s claims, accusing her of involvement in a plot against Omar Radi without legal evidence.
“It is outside the universal human rights system,” the union stressed. It creates a prejudice that “contradicts a woman’s right to defend herself against rape and assault, under the pretext that Radi is a ‘political and human rights activist.’”
The union alleged double standards. Western societies, it argued, encourage the pursuit of sexual assault charges. With Boutahar’s case, however, Western media and NGOs have contradicted their support for women seeking justice, because the rape accusation targets a figure they support.
The statement referenced a recent report from Human Rights Watch.
HRW published on Monday a report calling Omar Radi’s prosecution on rape and espionage charges “filmsy and political.”
Although the NGO stressed that the alleged rape victim has a right to be heard, HRW framed her story in an agenda-driven context.
Human Rights Watch claimed Morocco has a “tendency to arrest and imprison journalists on questionable charges of sexual misconduct.”