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Jailed Morocco journalist probed by court on rape charge

A Moroccan journalist and human rights activist held by authorities for weeks on charges of undermining state security, receiving foreign funding and rape, appeared before an investigating judge in Casablanca on Tuesday.

Omar Radi's hearing focused on the charges of “indecent assault with violence and rape” based on a complaint filed by a woman, according to his lawyer, Miloud Kandil.

“Radi has denied the allegation of rape and maintained his innocence throughout the hearing,” Kandil told The Associated Press.

Supporters protest in front of the Casablanca Courthouse, in Casablanca, Morocco, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, on the first day of the hearing of journalist and activist Omar Radi. The arrest of journalist Omar Radi follows numerous summons following a police investigation into suspicion of receiving funds linked to foreign intelligence. The investigation came after rights group Amnesty International accused Morocco of using Israeli-made spyware to snoop on its phone. (AP PhotoAbdeljalil Bounhar)

Radi, who was arrested in late July and jailed in Casablanca, has become something of a cause celebre for journalists in Morocco. The 34-year-old gained prominence last year after his arrest for a tweet that criticized a judge for upholding heavy prison sentences against anti-government protestors.

He was tried in March, given a four-month suspended sentence and fined 500 Moroccan Dirhams ($52).

Human rights organizations staged a protest Tuesday at the Casablanca courthouse along with Radi's parents. Bearing banners and placards, they asked authorities to drop all charges and allow him to work again. “Journalism is not a crime,” read one sign.

Activist Mother Fatima holds up a banner that reads: "No to political arrest", as she protests with others in front of the Casablanca Courthouse, in Casablanca, Morocco, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, on the first day of the hearing of journalist and activist Omar Radi. The arrest of journalist Omar Radi follows numerous summons following a police investigation into suspicion of receiving funds linked to foreign intelligence. The investigation came after rights group Amnesty International accused Morocco of using Israeli-made spyware to snoop on its phone. (AP PhotoAbdeljalil Bounhar)

Omar’s father, Driss Radi said that he does not understand why his son is detained.

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

In June, Amnesty International claimed the Moroccan government had unlawfully spied on Radi through his phone using sophisticated surveillance software. The government dismissed the claims as “baseless.”

Supporters protest in front of the Casablanca Courthouse, in Casablanca, Morocco, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, on the first day of the hearing of journalist and activist Omar Radi. The arrest of journalist Omar Radi follows numerous summons following a police investigation into suspicion of receiving funds linked to foreign intelligence. The investigation came after rights group Amnesty International accused Morocco of using Israeli-made spyware to snoop on its phone. Banner in Arabic reads: "Stop your lawsuits against Omar Radi". (AP PhotoAbdeljalil Bounhar)

Driss Radi, the father of Omar Radi, speaks to the media in front of the Casablanca Courthouse, in Casablanca, Morocco, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, on the first day of the hearing of journalist and activist Omar Radi. The arrest of journalist Omar Radi follows numerous summons following a police investigation into suspicion of receiving funds linked to foreign intelligence. The investigation came after rights group Amnesty International accused Morocco of using Israeli-made spyware to snoop on its phone. (AP PhotoAbdeljalil Bounhar)