Mr. Josep Borrell Fontelles
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
/ Vice-President of the Commission
European External Action Service
9A Rond Point Schuman
Sent via email
Dear High Representative Borrell,
I am writing to request the European External Action Service (EEAS) renew pressure on Moroccan authorities to release detained journalists and stop the arbitrary surveillance of journalists, and for the EEAS to strengthen calls for media freedom to be respected in the country.
This letter follows last week’s European Parliament Resolution on the situation of journalists in Morocco, notably the case of Omar Radi (2023/2506(RSP)), which expressed concern over the deterioration of press freedom in the country.
We would like to draw your attention to the following individuals who have been imprisoned because of their journalism:
- Omar Radi, an investigative reporter for local independent news website Le Desk, was arrested on July 29, 2020, following an investigation into land expropriation. Radi is serving a six-year prison sentence for undermining state security and sexual assault.
- Soulaiman Raissouni, editor-in-chief of local independent newspaper Akhbar al-Youm, was arrested on May 22, 2020, and is serving a five-year prison sentence for sexual assault.
- Taoufik Bouachrine, a columnist and the publisher of Akhbar al-Youm, was arrested on February 23, 2018, and is serving a 15-year sentence for charges including sexual assault.
Local journalists and press freedom advocates in the country told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that the charges filed against Radi, Raissouni, and Bouachrine are trumped-up and were brought in retaliation for their reporting.
CPJ calls on the EEAS to use all diplomatic and political means possible to secure their releases.
In addition, Moroccan journalists were among the first worldwide to identify the malicious use of spyware against reporters, pointing to digital surveillance as early as 2015. In July 2021, the Pegasus Project investigation revealed that Radi, Raissouni, and Bouachrine were among at least seven local journalists allegedly targeted by Pegasus spyware.
We urge you to renew calls to the Moroccan government to fully and independently investigate the findings of the Pegasus Project alleging that the national authorities placed journalists under surveillance. In line with the recent resolution by the European Parliament, we also urge you to support all calls to Member States to stop exporting harmful surveillance technology to Morocco, in line with the Dual-Use Regulation.
I thank you in advance for taking our requests into consideration.
Committee to Protect Journalists