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STOCKHOLM - Skyline International for Human Rights urges Moroccan authorities to ensure the journalist “Omar Radi” receives a fair trial according to International and Moroccan law. Radi has been in pretrial detention since his arrest on July 29, and his trial was set several days ago.

In its statement issued today, Thursday, Skyline stresses that it is following with concern the Moroccan judicial authority’s insistence to deprive the journalist “Radi” of his conditional release on a financial bail, have access to the case file, and present defenses to the charges against him that are reported to be fabricated.

Skyline mentions that Moroccan authorities arrested the 34-year-old journalist, Omar Radi, on July 29, 2020, without once providing him with a credible and individualized justification for depriving him of his liberty and only accusing him of “espionage, collaborating with foreign entities, and sexual assault.” The Moroccan journalist denies these charges, stressing that they are trumped-up.

In addition, the authorities also arrested the Moroccan journalist Imad Stitou, 34, on July 29, accusing him of “complicity” in the rape after he provided testimony as the sole person to witness the alleged incident, corroborating Mr. Radi’s version of events. This detention raises doubts about those charges’ seriousness as several independent journalists, activists, and politicians have been arrested on questionable charges of sexual abuse.

“Skyline” indicates that the trial session of “Radi” and “Stitou”, which was held last Tuesday, was postponed by the Court of Appeal in Casablanca, to April 24, upon the defense request to prepare the file and evaluate the charges against them in legal terms.

In this context, Skyline states that the “sexual assault” charge against “Radi” came when the authorities accused him of collaborating with a foreign country, which is apparently based on text exchanges he had with a foreign diplomat.

The human rights foundation “Skyline” believes that Radi’s arrest charges are suspicious due to the ambiguous arrest’s circumstances and the smear campaigns made against him by media outlets affiliated with the Moroccan authorities. This also includes the Amnesty International report’s alleging that the Moroccan government spied on Radi’s phone by software developed program, which the government denied.

For his part, Director of Legal Affairs and Policy Mohamed Imad said that “the charges made by the Moroccan authorities are not based on legal grounds, which confirms that these charges are fake, especially the collaboration with foreign entities”. These charges are made on no evidence that Radi did anything besides carry out ordinary journalistic work and maintain contact with diplomats, which is part of his job requirements as a journalist and advisor in economic affairs."

In a joint statement issued last Monday, fifteen Moroccan and international human rights organizations called the Moroccan authorities to grant Radi “provisional release” and “guarantee fair trial proceedings for all parties.” They noted that Radi’s unjustified detention and trial comes amidst an increasingly stifling atmosphere for Moroccan Independent Journalists, dissidents, and politicians on sexual assault charges.”

Skyline International stresses that the Moroccan judicial authorities should apply justice principles and ensure fair trial to all parties, particularly for alleged sexual abuses. The police should also abide by legal rules in evidence and allow journalists to present a complete defense to their charges. Skyline finally calls the Moroccan authorities to provide the appropriate environment for journalists to do their work without restriction or prosecution.