Moroccan journalist gets police summons over Israeli spyware allegations


Just days after a report by Amnesty International revealed that Moroccan journalist Omar Radi was targeted with NSO’s Pegasus software and put under surveillance, the police have suddenly summoned him for an “ongoing investigation”.

Radi, an investigative reporter who has been critical of Morocco’s human rights record, was ordered to appear before the National Brigade of Judicial Police.

Replying to the order, Radi sent a tweet on Wednesday night with a picture of the police summons. “I’ll be there tomorrow morning,” he said.

A statement on Wednesday night by the royal public prosecutor at Casablanca’s court of appeal confirmed that the summons had been issued and said Radi had been ordered to appear in connection to an “ongoing investigation in regard to his being a suspect of obtaining funds from foreign sources related to intelligence groups”.

Radi said in a statement: “I find the prosecution’s accusation absolutely ridiculous. This is clearly linked to recent revelations by Amnesty International and Forbidden Stories that my phone was spied on by Morocco using Israeli technology.”

He added: “I’m not afraid of anything; I’m going in with my head held high. My goal is to reveal through my journalism the injustices and the true reality of Morocco, and to campaign for a better Morocco as an activist.”

Amnesty said in a statement that news of the preliminary investigation was “shocking” and that it stood in solidarity with Radi, who “has shown throughout the years his commitment to a journalism free of any allegiance.”

An investigation by Amnesty claimed that Radi’s phone had repeatedly been targeted using NSO Group’s Pegasus software. The software, which NSO has said is only sold to governments and law enforcement officials to target criminals and terrorists, was allegedly used repeatedly to target Radi’s phone between January 2019 and January 2020, according to Amnesty.

NSO Group has said it was “deeply troubled” by the allegations and was determining whether an investigation was warranted. In response to questions about its relationship with Moroccan authorities, NSO said it “seeks to be as transparent as feasible” but was obliged to respect “state confidentiality concerns” and could not disclose the identity of its customers.

Amnesty has alleged that increased surveillance of journalists and other members of civil society has led to an uptick in arbitrary arrests and prosecutions in Morocco, including ten recent cases of unlawful arrests, prosecutions, and prison terms for people who had “offended” public officials, institutions, or the monarchy.

Radi has described to Amnesty that working conditions have become more difficult in Morocco, including threats by police against people he has interviewed in connection to an investigation into land rights abuses. (Source: The Guardian)