On July 5, 2020, police in Casablanca arrested Omar Radi and Imad Stitou, investigative journalists at the Moroccan Le Desk news website, for alleged “public intoxication and violence,” and detained them overnight, according to Le Desk and news reports.
The journalists were held in police custody and then released on July 6 pending an investigation into allegations of public intoxication, violence, insult, and filming without permission, according to court documents reviewed by CPJ. They are set to appear before a prosecutor on September 24, according to those documents.
The journalists were arrested after allegedly getting into a dispute with a camera operator from Chouf TV, a privately owned news website that is supportive of the country’s government, according to those news reports.
The report by Le Desk alleged that the camera operator, whose name was not disclosed, had been following Radi since June 25. That report said the man waited for Radi and Stitou outside a bar for several hours, and then filmed the pair when they exited. The journalists then filmed the camera operator, prompting him to yell at Radi and Stitou, according to Le Desk.
Police arrived moments later and arrested Radi and Stitou, according to Le Desk and those news reports.
Since early June, Chouf TV has published a series of articles accusing Radi of receiving funding from foreign intelligence agencies for his journalism. On June 25, the National Brigade of Judicial Police in Casablanca interrogated Radi for five hours over those allegations, Radi told CPJ, and authorities summoned him for further questioning on July 2.
In March, a Casablanca court issued Radi a four-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of 500 Moroccan dirham ($51) for allegedly insulting a judge in a tweet he posted in April 2019, according to reports.
On June 22, Amnesty International released a report alleging that the Moroccan government used Pegasus, software developed by Israeli cybersecurity company NSO group, to hack Radi’s phone between January 2019 and January 2020.
On June 26, Moroccan authorities denied those allegations, according to Reuters.
The National Brigade of Judicial Police and the Ministry of Justice did not return CPJ’s requests for comment sent to their official Facebook pages.
CPJ emailed Chouf TV for comment but did not receive an immediate response.