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Protest in Casablanca court over trial of Moroccan journalist

Free Omar Radi Protest   -  
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Protesters gathered outside the Casablanca Appeal Court on Tuesday, as Moroccan investigative journalist and human rights activist Omar Radi appeared to be questioned by an examining magistrate.

Radi was first tried in March and was given a four-month suspended sentence after he was arrested for a tweet in which he criticized a judge for upholding heavy prison sentences against government protestors.

He is charged with "harming internal security" and "receiving foreign funds". He is also accused of rape. He has been in prison since July 29 and has denied all accusations.

Outside the court, Omar's parents joined journalists and human rights activists demanding the release of Radi and criticizing what they call an attack to the freedom of expression in Morocco.

They also called on Moroccan authorities to drop all the charges against the journalist to allow him to carry on with his work.

Omar investigated suspected corruption and links between political and business interests in Morocco, according to Amnesty International. He was also a prominent critic of the country's human rights record.

Omar's father, Driss Radi said that he does not understand why his son has been detained.

"All the charges against my son are fabricated and no one believes them", he added.

Many journalists attended the protest, including Oussi Mouh Lahcen, who said that "the way the state is dealing with the press now is not bearing fruit", calling for a change in the authorities' "approach".

In January this year, the Moroccan Human Rights League warned of an assault on freedom of expression in the country following the arrest over recent months of 15 journalists, bloggers, rappers and social media users.

In a report published on June, Amnesty International said Moroccan journalist Omar Radi's phone was tapped as part of the government's efforts to clamp down on dissent.

This was "categorically refuted" by Moroccan authorities, who said the accusations were "unfounded."

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