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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Moroccan journalist appears in court on spy charges

In July, Radi appeared in a video where he described the charges as "ridiculous" [AFP]

Date of publication: 25 December, 2020

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Omar Radi professed his innocence and said his foreign dealings under investigation were "purely professional and connected to his work as a journalist", his lawyer said.

Prominent Moroccan journalist and human rights activist Omar Radi appeared in court on Thursday, his lawyer said, after being detained several months earlier on accusations of espionage.

Radi was placed in pre-trial detention in July on charges of receiving foreign funds for the purpose of harming "state security", the justice ministry said at the time.

The investigation into Radi's purported receipt of foreign funds began in late June, the day after an Amnesty International report alleged that software developed by Israeli security firm NSO Group was used to insert spy-ware on Radi's mobile phone.

The 34-year-old is also accused separately of rape.

Lawyer Miloud Kandil said Radi appeared Thursday in the criminal chamber of the Casablanca appeals court over the espionage case.

Radi professed his innocence and said his foreign dealings under investigation were "purely professional and connected to his work as a journalist," Kandil said.

He declined to provide further details.

The Moroccan authorities have described Amnesty's accusation as "tendentious".

In July, Radi's supporters released a video in which he dismissed the spying accusation as "ridiculous" and a form of revenge following the Amnesty report.

Radi and Souleimane Raissouni, another detained journalist, held a 24-hour hunger strike earlier this month to "protest their stay in preventive detention without sentencing", according to a statement released by their supporters.

Raissouni, the chief editor of Moroccan independent daily Akhbar Al-Yaoum, has been detained since late May.

His laywer said in July that the 48-year-old was under investigation for charges of "indecent assault" against another man.

Read more: Morocco journalist stays behind bars for 'indecent assault'

His supporters have alleged that his case is part of a campaign of defamation targeting journalists and rights activists critical of the Moroccan authorities.

Raissouni has also proclaimed his innocence.

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