The imprisonment of Omar Radi and Soulaiman Raissouni, two journalists who stood out for their activism and criticism of the Moroccan government, signals the deepening of censorship in the country. The two have been sentenced to 5 and 6 years in prison, respectively.
Why? They exposed the system of surveillance used by the Moroccan authorities, without any notification to citizens.
Omar Radi, notably, is the first journalist to have discovered and exposed the Pegasus spyware. The Moroccan government engaged in cell phone surveillance via use of the Israeli company NSO's Pegasus software.
Surveillance is not limited to Moroccan journalists, but appears to be more wide-ranging. In fact, Morocco is suspected of even having been involved in spying on French President Macron's phone, a fact that Rabat has hastened to deny.
According to an investigation by Radio France, Morocco has also spied on other French citizens, hinting that Rabat wanted to check the intentions of Western African independentists.
Moroccan democracy and freedom rates are plummeting, as indicated by these other disturbing events:
- Uyghur activist Yidiresi Aisha is being extradicted to China from Morocco, violating Morocco’s international obligations, such as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
- The Moroccan government recently rejected the calls of Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, for protection of dissidents and freedom of speech.
Out of 150 countries in its Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranks Morocco #135. That’s not good.