Morocco urges Amnesty to provide evidence of spying on journalist

AI's struggle with the Moroccan government dates back at least to 2014; since then, Rabat has complained that the organization has devoted 72 reports to criticizing or condemning the Maghreb country
Saadeddine El Othmani, jefe de Gobierno de Marruecos

PHOTO/TRIANA TORRERO  -   Saadeddine El Othmani

The Moroccan government on Friday again asked Amnesty International (AI) to provide evidence that it spied on journalist Omar Radi after hacking into his phone with a program provided by an Israeli company, as stated in the public accusation issued by that organization on 22 June. Since then, the Rabat government has denied the accusations and has demanded three times that AI provide evidence of this alleged spying. 

This Friday, it was the President of the Government, Saadeddine El Othmani, who asked the official agency MAP to give him "a copy of the scientific expert's report (from the telephone) or to make it public" because he considered that his accusations "are devoid of any scientific foundation. 

At first it was rumoured that the government was about to close the Amnesty office in Morocco - which on the other hand has very little presence, as the authorities banned much of its activities - but in this Friday's statement the tone is less frontal. Thus, Otmani says his government "remains open to the constructive dialogue that requires (Amnesty) to present evidence to show its accusations, or otherwise correct its position as a sign of good faith to restore confidence. 

AI's standoff with the Moroccan government is longstanding, dating back at least to 2014; since that date, Rabat complains that the organization has devoted 72 reports to criticizing or condemning the Maghreb country, which the government says reflects Amnesty's "fixation" with Morocco. 

For its part, Amnesty said that Morocco has already resorted to telephone tapping technologies against dissidents in the past and that its government "is responsible for intimidating, persecuting and criminalizing human rights defenders and journalists.